Homelessness Prevention Measures

Emergency Shelter

The SMCAA Emergency Shelter provides temporary housing for individuals and/or families experiencing homelessness. Those residents may stay and receive supportive services designed to enable them to develop necessary life skills and move into supportive or permanent housing. Our Shelter is located in Van Buren County at: 210 E. Delaware St., Decatur.


Women, children, and families may stay in our Emergency Shelter for up to 90 days.

Who is eligible?

  • Homeless single women, women with children, and families

  • Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) or another agency MUST send referral to SMCAA directly

Those in need may call 269-605-4526 for direct contact with SMCAA staff at the Shelter.

Emergency Food and Shelter Program (EFSP)

EFSP supplements and expands ongoing work of local social service organizations, both nonprofit and governmental, to provide shelter, food, and supportive services to individuals, families, and households who have economic, non-disaster related emergencies. EFSP funding is open to all organizations helping individuals, families, and households who are experiencing, or at risk of, food insecurity and/or homelessness.

SMCAA receives EFSP funds and may use these funds to provide the following services:

  • Food in the form of served meals or groceries

  • Lodging in a mass shelter, or in a hotel/motel or other off-site shelter facility limited to 30-days assistance per individual or household

  • One-month's rent or mortgage, and/or utility, assistance to prevent eviction or foreclosure

  • Transportation costs associated food or shelter

  • Minor emergency repairs of small equipment essential to mass feeding or sheltering, not exceeding $300 in repair costs per item

  • Emergency repairs to comply with building code citations for mass care feeding or sheltering facilities, not exceeding $2,500

  • Expenses incurred making mass feeding or sheltering facilities accessible for individuals with disabilities, not exceeding $2,500

  • Supplies and small equipment essential to feed or shelter people, not exceeding $300 per item

Who is eligible?

  • Individual or household facing eviction or foreclosure

  • Household income at or below 200% of Federal Poverty Level

Supportive Housing

Supportive Housing provides housing and supportive services to disabled and/or mental health individuals. 

For qualifying clients, SMCAA pays a portion of the client's monthly rent. This payment is based on the income of that client. SMCAA also works with the client's Mental Health Worker and other community organizations to provide additional support services as wraparound programming in order to help and support the individual to sustain housing.

Who is eligible?

  • Mental health clients with a mental health worker

  • Clients must have a treatment plan in place

  • Participants must reside in Cass or Van Buren County

  • Mental Health Worker must send referral to SMCAA directly

Emergency Solutions Grant (ESG)

The federal Emergency Solutions Grant program (ESG) provides funds for a variety of activities to address homelessness as authorized under the federal Homeless Emergency Assistance and Rapid Transition to Housing (HEARTH) Act of 2009 and State program requirements. SMCAA administers the ESG program with funding received from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to individuals and families in Cass and Van Buren Counties.

The ESG program provides grant funding to (1) engage homeless individuals and families living on the street, (2) rapidly re-house homeless individuals and families, (3) help operate and provide essential services in emergency shelters for homeless individuals and families, and (4) prevent individuals and families from becoming homeless.

SMCAA provides participants with housing case management, supportive services, and rental assistance through Rapid Rehousing and Eviction Prevention.

Rapid Rehousing targets individuals and households with children that are coming directly from the streets or emergency shelter. The purpose of this program is to make each household's experience of homelessness as brief as possible by moving them into permanent housing quickly and to support the household in their efforts to live as independently as possible.

Who is eligible?

  • Participants must reside in Cass or Van Buren County

  • Individuals or families come directly from the streets or an emergency shelter

  • Meet VI-SPDAT scoring in the rapid rehousing or PSH intervention range


My Path to Homeownership

​I would like to take an opportunity to share my story that I believe many Americans will be able to empathize with.  For myself Home Ownership always seemed out of my reach.  For many years I was struggling to escape the "Rental Trap" moving from place to place paying thousands of dollars after many years and having nothing but memories to show for my efforts.  As a high school honor student and a holder of an associate's degree I thought I had the necessary knowledge to be prepared to be successful in the world.


Unfortunately, I did not have the knowledge or education to prepare myself for the upcoming financial challenges or credit barriers necessary to position myself for home ownership.  At the age of 38 I found myself exhausted from renting from landlord after landlord and decided to get serious about educating myself towards home ownership.  I got serious about monitoring my credit and began to explore what programs may be available to help someone such as myself reach their dream.


I was fortunate enough to have a conversation with a loan originator from a local bank who gave me advice on my credit issues and talked about a program that may be able to help me get closer to Home Ownership.  I began to explore online and I was eventually led to the Southwest Michigan Community Action Agency (SMCAA).  I learned that I could take classes to prepare me for home ownership and potentially receive down payment assistance to purchase my dream home.


I was once again blessed to have the opportunity to meet Kim who conducted the course I attended. She invited bank representatives and a realtor as guest speakers to discuss the challenges we were all facing. I believe some may neglect how challenging home ownership can actually be unless you are fortunate enough to be in an ideal situation. When faced with adversity, without the necessary education, making the decision that will lead us to our ultimate goal can seem impossible at times.


As I mentioned earlier I was 38 years old before I decided to change my financial path.  I had personally felt that I had reached rock bottom. I found myself divorced, my credit score in the dumps, living with my parents and everything I owned fit into one laundry basket. With the support and assistance from Kim I have the keys in my hands for my dream home. In two years' time I have managed to achieve a lifelong dream that would not be possible without the help I received.   Every day I give thanks for the blessings that I have received and the opportunities that I have had to endure. One day my story may actually help another.  To give someone hope that when things seem impossible that it can still be a reality.


It is my hope that programs such as the one that has helped me continue to be offered to those truly in need of that extra nudge to get them on the correct path.  That little guidance to show the light when goals seem so out of reach.  The reward, I believe, is one worth the cost.

This client was asked if he would like to represent the consumer sector on SMCAA's Board of Directors to which he accepted. He has served on our Board since 2013.