The Severe Weather Network Livingston County mobilizes community resources to provide emergency overnight shelter services to homeless adults during the winter months from December 1 – April 30.
The Severe Weather Network (SWN) partners with community organizations, agencies and faith communities to provide emergency, overnight refuge during the winter months for individuals experiencing homelessness. In addition, we connect homeless individuals with community action agencies that provide services necessary to assist individuals with the transition into affordable housing.
Through collaborative efforts with community volunteers, human services agencies, corporations and faith communities, the Severe Weather Network is committed to the development of a facility providing year-round 24 hour emergency shelter services with access to on-site case management for homeless adults in Livingston County, MI.
Structure of the SWN
The Severe Weather Network (SWN) is a non-profit, 501c3, which operates a nightly Severe Weather Center (SWC). Due to Covid19, we are unable to provide shelter in a group setting. However, we are creating alternative plans to assist individuals in our county who are experiencing homelessness.
Homelessness in Livingston County
Homelessness is defined as individuals living outside, in tents or cars, as well as individuals not able to maintain their housing situation and are forced to stay with friends, and/or extended family members. Currently, in Livingston County, MI, 14,580 individuals are “food insecure” (lacking enough nutritious food for a healthy life) and 10,940 individuals are living below the federal poverty level (2016 census est.).
On any given day there are approximately 100 homeless individuals in Livingston County which has no designated emergency shelter and a lack of affordable housing. Of those who are homeless, 21% will find refuge in a place not meant for habitation. Others (12%) will stay with friends and family, some will stay in an inexpensive motel, and a few will seek out the services of hospitals and detox facilities. In most cases, the individual struggling to find housing will find an isolated place to stay, away from the resources that can help them succeed and recover.
Severe Weather Network History
The Severe Weather Network (SWN) is a 501(c)(3) charitable organization that was created from a need to shelter Livingston County’s homeless men and women in the winter months. In 2015, four churches along with three action agencies decided that a shelter was needed during the coldest months of the year. By providing a safe place to sleep and a hot meal, the churches could serve the homeless individuals while incorporating other action agencies into the Network of support.
In our first year, the Severe Weather Center was housed at Centerpointe Church in Howell, MI for a short, six week season. In 2017, we expanded our ministry season to 8 weeks, and then in 2018 we grew as a network and offered 12 weeks of shelter at 4 different sites. After becoming a non-profit in 2018, we continued to expand our services, keeping our doors open for 16 weeks (December 1 – April 14). Each year, we learn more about the challenges faced by those who are affected by homelessness.
By the end of the first season as a non-profit (501c3) organization, we had served 45 guests and provided over 1,500 overnight stays throughout the 16-week season. Some individuals found housing or employment after only a few nights at the SWN, while others stayed with us for the entire season. Many of our leaders and volunteers worked with staff from Livingston County action agencies connecting guests to services and resources designed to help them emerge from the grips of homelessness. These services may include job placement, financial assistance, housing, clothing, food, and connection to local health resources. The SWN is a place where guests can expand their network of relationships and better navigate the maze of resources and services.