Bethany Housing engages the full spectrum of housing: from providing rental assistance for homeless and vulnerably housed neighbors to offering rental housing for working wage families, to supporting existing homeowners in maintaining their homes, to rehabbing dilapidated homes to create new opportunities.
Bethany is known for its creativity in solving some of the more challenging housing issues. A team of Housing Resource Specialists and Family Support Liaisons walk alongside these families to educate, advise, support, stabilize, and enrich their housing and neighborhood experience.
A staff member walks a young mom with 2 young children into an apartment building, handing her a set of keys. After living in a car, the anticipation is palpable. The young mom opens the door. Her children peek from behind her and then shyly slip into the room. Slowly they begin to realize that this is their very own home space.
Imagine the excitement of receiving a key to a place that you can call your own, where you can safely keep your belongings, where your children have a roof over their heads, their own bathroom and some privacy, where you can invite friends and family, and where maybe you can find new friends.
Bob was given a key. He was disabled and had no income. He was in and out of different housing units often ending badly in disputes and resulting in isolation and increased dependence on alcohol. Recently, Bob found a home at Lazarus Place, a “permanent supportive housing” unit owned by Pioneer Resources, and supported by Bethany Housing staff. He works off the $50/month rent by assisting with chores and maintenance. But just as important, Bob is connecting with communities in which he feels comfortable. Church is one of those places. Now that he has a stable address, he has predictable transportation to and from church and he can regularly run the church sound booth. Sacred Suds, another one of Community enCompass’ projects, is also a safe place. Bob faithfully volunteers there as a laundry room attendant. Bob’s key gives him a roof over his head, a place to worship and fellowship, and dignity and respect knowing he can contribute to others.
Brittany Lenertz has a key. Brittany and Jeremy, her husband, have been on a journey from South Dakota and Oklahoma to Saginaw, MI and finally to Muskegon where Jeremy pastors First Wesleyan Church and Brittany works for West Michigan Works. Their journey led them to a realization that they love diversity and believe fervently in the possibility of racial reconciliation and want to live in a neighborhood that embraces those values. After taking the Community enCompass “Taste and See” Tour, they found that neighborhood on 1312 Ransom St. After an arduous, but rewarding process of sweat equity, steep learning curves while working side by side with the rehab crew, and patiently waiting for all the logistical pieces to come together, Brittany, Jeremy and their 2 daughters, were given the key to their new home. This key has given them much more than just access to brick and mortar. It has opened up new and developing relationships with their neighbors. “We know the names of all our neighbors and we love to sit on our porches and chat.” That same key opens their daughters’ eyes and hearts to “a new normal” as Brittany puts it – living with joy rather than fear in relationships with folks who look different, come from different backgrounds, and believe different things
Bethany Housing has been giving keys to individuals, couples, and families over the past 30 years. Keys that open physical doors and keys that open lives to new possibilities, new relationships, new opportunities and new hopes and dreams.