Alternatives for Girls to build supportive housing development in the Miller Grove neighborhood

What’s happening: It’s a big summer ahead for Alternatives for Girls, the Detroit-based nonprofit advocating for homeless and high-risk girls and young women since 1987. Earlier this month, the organization proved successful in securing their license to begin providing on-site childcare services at their W. Grand Boulevard headquarters. And sometime later this summer or in the early fall, Alternatives for Girls will break ground on a 45-unit residential development in the city’s Miller Grove neighborhood, providing affordable housing and permanent supportive housing to those eligible. The organization hopes to open the development, Miller Grove Center, by late summer 2023.

Alternatives for Girls will break ground on a 45-unit residential development in the city’s Miller Grove neighborhood later this summer.
What’s planned: This isn’t your average mixed-use development. The 45-unit Miller Grove Center will sync with the Alternatives for Girls mission of helping homeless and high-risk girls and young women, designed with parents who have experienced homelessness in mind. The nonprofit’s current shelters are more temporary, and the Miller Grove Center will provide a more permanent housing solution for many.

It’s important to note that Miller Grove Center will be open to all that are eligible for permanent supportive housing, and not just those that go through the Alternative for Girls program.

Planned for a site on Burt Road, near the intersection of W. McNichols and Grand River Avenue, approximately half of the units will be reserved for affordable housing while the other half will be reserved for permanent supportive housing (PSH), the latter of which will be available for those that have experienced, or are experiencing, homelessness. Additional amenities will include a childcare center, on-site caseworkers, community and computer rooms, employment assistance, and more.

Amenities will include a childcare center, on-site caseworkers, community and computer rooms, employment assistance, and more.
Why it’s important: “Ever since day one, we have always known that we wanted to eventually provide some supportive housing,” says Amy Good, CEO of Alternatives for Girls. “For young women, once they have been in our shelter and they've gotten their feet on the ground, they've gotten some stability, they've gotten a job. And they no longer need the 24-7, very structured and somewhat intensive support of living on-site. And yet, they could still benefit from being part of a community of young women like themselves and also could benefit from really good access to services. This accomplishes that.”

[Read Alternatives for Girls relies on community connections to stay open during COVID-19” as part of the Nonprofit Journal Project on Model D.]

Community partnerships: Seeds for the Miller Grove Center actually started as a proposed partnership with the Ruth Ellis Center before the two organizations decided that participants would benefit most from two distinct projects. The Ruth Ellis Center project is near completion in the city’s Piety Hill neighborhood. Alternatives for Girls has partnered with Chicago-based Full Circle Communities on their own project. It’s Full Circle Communities that owns the development, and Alternatives for Girls is the primary service provider. Detroit’s Southwest Counseling Solutions will provide on-site case management and therapeutic services.

“Ever since day one, we have always known that we wanted to eventually provide some supportive housing,” says Amy Good, CEO of Alternatives for Girls.
Why Miller Grove: The location provides plenty of opportunity for tenants, says Good, noting its proximity to a Meijer superstore, essentially across the street, and its potential as a source of employment.

“It's a thriving community, with retail and transportation, and other community amenities that will help provide access for our participants to engage with the community. That's what we know will help them be successful, when they reach out to amenities like the library, like churches, like adult education centers; where they can get jobs nearby. It's a growing and thriving part of the city with residents that are very engaged. So it's a win-win,” Good says. “That's what we wanted: a win-win, a neighborhood that would be a good fit, where our project would contribute to the community and the community would help our participants be successful.”

This Street View series on Detroit's commercial corridors is made possible with support from the Ford Foundation.

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MJ Galbraith is Model D's development news editor. Follow him on Twitter @mikegalbraith.