Driving a van around the business district of downtown Detroit looking for people in need of housing may seem like an unusual job, but for James Carey this is how he changes people's lives. James is a case manager for The Road Home, an outreach crisis unit at Neighborhood Service Organization providing support for people experiencing homelessness with many barriers. James and his team engage people on the streets and provide intensive case management services. For example, The Road Home team recovers all the proper documents an individual needs to be housed, they maintain constant contact with the individual while locating housing, and once housed team members continue to provide support services for each individual.
"That's what supportive housing is all about; supporting the person throughout the whole process and allowing them to maintain stability once they are housed," James said.
The Road Home provides support to anyone experiencing homelessness, regardless of their circumstance "We never turn a person away. If the person wants to end their homelessness then that's what we are there for. We do everything we can to help them," James said.
In just one year, James and his team housed over 100 people in need of housing. The City of Detroit called upon The Road Home to help with an encampment of individuals who were living in a local park during some of the most extreme temperatures this past January. Despite repeated community outreach efforts, this group remained in the park. Once The Road Home became involved they housed all 14 residents in just 40 days, an accomplishment James is extremely proud of.
The work that James and The Road Home are doing is truly making a difference in the city of Detroit. James explained The Road Home is offering people in need of housing a chance to make decisions for themselves and access permanent housing with support. For James, the greatest reward is seeing an individual receive the keys to their very own home for the first time. He said the best part about his job is knowing, "We don't manage homeless, we end it."