Permanent supportive housing for at-risk LGBTQ+ youth opens in Detroit’s Piety Hill neighborhood

What’s happening: Two years after breaking ground and seven years in development, the Ruth Ellis Clairmount Center for LGBTQ+ youth has officially opened in Detroit’s Piety Hill neighborhood. The 43-unit mixed-use development serves as a haven for at-risk LGBTQ+ youth and includes a range of on-site support services.

Who they are: Headquartered in nearby Highland Park, the Ruth Ellis Center was founded in 1999 to provide safe spaces and support services for runaway, homeless, and at-risk LGBTQ+ youth in the Detroit area. The organization is named for Detroiter Ruth Ellis, who started providing shelter and support to the city’s LGBTQ+ population in the 1930s. The new development features a four-story mural of Ellis as painted by Detroit artist Ijania Cortez.

What it is: The Ruth Ellis Clairmount Center is believed to be the first of its kind in the Midwest, a permanent supportive housing development for the region’s at-risk LGBTQ+ youth. The $16 million, 45,540 sq. ft. development was built by the Ruth Ellis Center and Full Circle Communities Inc. and features 43 residential units, including 32 studio and 11 one-bedroom apartments. Of those total units, 34 will be supported by vouchers that cover most or all of the costs; eight units will be available as low cost apartments to those earning no more than 30% of the area median income. The remaining one unit will be occupied by a live-in peer support specialist.

Additional amenities: In addition to amenities that include a technology center, rooftop deck, private patio, and more, the Clairmount Center also contains dedicated space for individual and group therapy sessions and case management services from the Ruth Ellis Center. Also on site is the Ruth Ellis Health & Wellness Center at Clairmount, where Henry Ford Health will offer primary care, comprehensive sexual health services, PrEP, HIV treatment, gender-affirming hormone therapies, and other critical services.

Why it’s important: “The new Ruth Ellis Clairmount Center is a significant milestone for Ruth Ellis Center, and more importantly, an example of how we must respond to the disproportionate number of LGBTQ+ young people experiencing homelessness nationwide,” says Mark Erwin, interim co-executive director of the Ruth Ellis Center. “Our mission is to create opportunities with LGBTQ+ young people to build their vision for a positive future.”

The Ruth Ellis Clairmount Center is located at 61 Clairmount St. in Detroit. Visit the Ruth Ellis Center online to learn more about their range of support services for area LGBTQ+ youth.

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