Mayor: Community Health Corps to revolutionize how City helps its most vulnerable residents, provide job paths

  • CHC staff to identify families with greatest need to connect them to vital services such as food security, utility payment assistance, home assistance programs, water assistance & more
  • Workers also to assess family member skill levels for referral to Detroit at Work for training and employment opportunities
  • Case managers initially to work with 160 pre-identified DWSD & Housing department clients to demonstrate program effectiveness before scaling up
Community Health Corps

Mayor Mike Duggan today announced a new initiative he says will revolutionize how the city can change quality of life for its most vulnerable residents. For many Detroiters, the current pandemic has exacerbated previously existing issues related to everything from food, housing and utility insecurity to behavioral health support, job training and employment.

For example, a third or more of Detroiters do not own a car or have access to the Internet, isolating them to a large degree from programs that can help them find employment, address their housing needs, access family health services or receive food or water assistance.

To address this in an unprecedented way, the new Community Health Corps, which will be funded initially with $3.5 million in federal CARES Act funds, will send community health workers and peer counselors door-to-door across the city to identify families in need of any of the multitude of these and other services and support programs to improve their economic mobility, health and quality of life.

“What we have been finding is that too many of our residents in need of the available services and programs offered simply aren’t aware of them and don’t know where to go for help,” said Mayor Duggan. “The CHC team will help identify the needs within each household and connect family members with the appropriate programs. They also will assess the talent and skills of each family member for referral to Detroit at Work training and employment programs.”

Once City Council approves the plan, the City of Detroit through Detroit at Work will begin hiring its initial team of approximately (20) staff, which the Mayor expects will start hitting the streets in October. The CHC would later scale up to serve a much larger number of households, once it is able to measure and demonstrate its effectiveness.

How the CHC will work
Initially, the CHC team will focus on 160 pre-identified customers of the water department it knows to have struggled paying their bills, as well as households served by the Housing & Revitalization Department (HRD) and visit those families.

“The goal of the CHC is to identify and reach out to these individuals and families ourselves, so they don’t need to find us,” said Deputy Mayor Conrad Mallett, who has led the development of the CHC.

Community Health Corps. will use licensed social workers, social work generalists, nurses, and community health workers to make up the team of case managers and peer counselors. Counselors and case managers will work with individuals and families, to apply for resources and identify support services wherever needs may be identified. Team members will be trained to provide trauma-informed care, mental health first-aid, and hold a certified health worker certificate in addition to undergoing cultural sensitivity training prior to engaging with residents as part of the program.

Residents working with CHC will be assigned a case manager who will serve as an advocate for their clients and help them navigate applications to enroll in various support programs and speak with them regularly to meet clients definition of success. Peer counselors will help the case managers stay in touch with the client and support the client/case manager effort as residents apply for and receive wrap around services offered by social service providers. Through partnerships with nonprofits and human services organizations, CHC will also work to address barriers that prevent residents from accessing resources that would prepare them for employment and economic mobility.

Training & Employment Opportunities
The Community Health Corps will function as a partner entity within the Detroit at Work program, with staff reporting to executive director Sheilah Clay (retired president and CEO of Neighborhood Services Organization (NSO) who joined Detroit at Work in Aug. 2019), all under the council of an advisory board.

“Building the Community Health Corps using the Detroit at Work infrastructure will help us connect more Detroiters to job training and employment opportunities let them truly improve their standard of living,” said Executive Director of Workforce Development & Detroit at Work, Nicole Sherard-Freeman. “What was missing until today was the critical link between direct, door-to-door outreach, helping people solve their day-to-problems, and staying in the trenches with residents to long enough to get them onto a better path in their lives. The entire city will benefit from having the expertise of Sheilah Clay and other highly-skilled colleagues as we lead this work.”

The CHC will help connect Detroiters to these and other services:

Basic Necessities

  • Water Residential Assistance Program (WRAP)
  • Food/Meal distribution locations
  • Free COVID testing, including transportation
  • DDOT/Transportation needs


  • Detroit At Work for job training and placement
  • Paid High school completion and GED programs for adults
  • Access to free digital devices and free internet service for select Detroit at work programs
  • Grow Detroit’s Young Talent summer jobs program for youth
  • Project Clean Slate expungement program


  • Detroit Promise (tuition free college for all Detroit HS grads)
  • GOAL Line
  • Detroit Schools Guide
  • Child Care

Help with Your Home

  • Temporary Housing
  • Affordable Housing assistance
  • Rental assistance
  • Eviction and foreclosure prevention
  • Home repair loans
  • Pay As You Stay
  • Property Tax Exemptions (HPTAP)
  • Permanent supportive housing for those in and out of homelessness
  • Detroit Land Bank Occupied Buy Back program

Health Programs

  • Behavioral health (mental health and substance abuse)
  • Children & Family immunization
  • Lead Poisoning case management
  • Detroit ID program
  • Health Screening programs
  • Maternal Child Health

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