Delphia Simmons meets a lot of people in financial distress.
In her job at the Coalition on Temporary Shelter (COTS) in Detroit’s Midtown neighborhood, she’s witness to the myriad plot twists that land people in the homeless shelter from throughout the metro area. From job loss and chronic unemployment, to mortgage and tax foreclosure, to unexpected expenses, medical crises and domestic violence, she’s seen it all.
“We have a lot of heartbreaking stories,” said Simmons, director of COTS’s Passport to Self-Sufficiency program.
Residents there are without the safety net of steady income that’s high enough to pay for life’s basic needs: housing, food, transportation and health care. Simmons says she sees people’s direct paths from being simply financially challenged to facing the more serious societal issues of homelessness, hunger and long-term unemployment.
“If we could get ahead of it… we could actually prevent homelessness from happening, which is what you really want to do, prevent it before it happens,” she said. “The face of homelessness is not the face of the man holding the sign at the freeway exit anymore. It is families.”