City of Detroit, HUD celebrate deal that lets Freedom House to continue its mission of serving refugees fleeing persecution


City of Detroit, HUD celebrate deal that lets Freedom House to continue its mission of serving refugees fleeing persecution

  • Nonprofit now owns building in Southwest Detroit for the first time in its nearly 40 years of serving families.
  • More than 5,000 refugees have been served by Freedom House, with an average of 125 a year.

DETROIT – The City of Detroit Housing & Revitalization Department (HRD) and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) are celebrating the sale of City-owned land to Freedom House Detroit, a deal that will ensure the nonprofit can continue to provide community housing and supportive services to refugees and others from around the globe who are fleeing persecution.

Founded in 1983 in response to Salvadorans escaping their country’s brutal civil war, Freedom House has remained Detroit’s and Michigan’s only full-service provider for refugees and others seeking humanitarian protection. Freedom House provides community housing, legal aid, access to medical and mental health care, and support in navigating U.S. employment and housing systems. These programs are delivered using person-centered, trauma-informed, interdisciplinary approaches. As a result, at Freedom House, thousands of survivors of persecution have found a path to freedom.

Recent changes in federal housing policy resulted in changes to how the building could operate and created an opportunity for the City of Detroit to exercise a local government unit of sale process. The City was interested in a buyer for the property that could continue the type of services that Freedom House provides. As part of the process, the City coordinated a competitive bid process. Freedom House was the sole bidder, acquiring the property for $150,000 and guaranteeing that it will remain in its current home, located in Southwest Detroit. This is the first time that Freedom House will own the building that it houses refugees in since its founding. The deal closed Friday.

“For refugees and others fleeing persecution, Freedom House serves as a place of hope, protection, and refuge,” said Julie Schneider, director of the City of Detroit's Housing & Revitalization Department. “On behalf of the staff at HRD, we are proud to have played a role in helping Freedom House gain a permanent home to continue providing essential resources to our newest community members.”

In the almost 40 years since its founding, Freedom House has helped more than 5,000 people fleeing persecution, answering its door at any time, day or night.

Annually, more than 125 people call Freedom House their first home in Detroit and the U.S. On average all beds are full – evidence of Detroit’s role in serving this vulnerable population. By the time they move out, Freedom House’s clients are prepared to join their new communities. In 2021, 79% of exiting clients had jobs or were leaving to pursue job opportunities, and 88% moved into apartments or homes of their own.

Reflecting on the City’s partnership throughout the purchase process, Freedom House Chief Executive Officer Elizabeth Orozco-Vasquez said, “For decades, the City of Detroit has supported people fleeing persecution by partnering with Freedom House Detroit on funding, service, and health initiatives. This project is a continuation of that partnership. Freedom House would not have reached this goal were it not for the City’s stewardship of the process.”

People fleeing persecution or afraid to return to their home countries can call 313-964-4320.

“HUD is happy that the building will continue to serve the community,” said Michael Polsinelli, Detroit field office director for HUD. “HUD’s partnership with the City of Detroit was integral to making this happen. Congratulations to Freedom House on its permanent home.”