SJC Human Services News

2021 St. Joseph County Housing Plan

Post Date: June 30, 2021

CENTREVILLE, Mich. – A master plan for St. Joseph County housing was revealed during a virtual meeting held Wednesday, June 23.

The plan, presented by the representatives from St. Joseph County Human Services Commission and Community Action of Southcentral Michigan, was created by the Southcentral Michigan Planning Council (SMPC) over the course of the last two years. Wednesday’s presentation outlined the highlights of the 62-page plan and the recommendations for future housing in the county.

The overall vision of the program, as noted by SMPC Director Lee Adams, is for the county to have a wide range of housing options available for current and future residents.

“If you don’t have choices for people, they might not locate in St. Joseph County,” Adams said. “If they’re looking for something other than a single-family house and all that’s available is single-family housing, they might look elsewhere.”

Adams added that maintenance of current homes for future generations and stakeholder involvement is also important to the plan’s vision. To that, Adams said stakeholders in the county, including businesses, should work together and collaborate to address housing issues and “envision housing as community assets.”

“If you don’t have housing, it’ll be difficult for employers to find new workers and it’s going to be harder to fill schools with new children, and it’s going to be harder for local governments to balance their budgets,” Adams said. “Having a healthy housing system is important for a lot of aspects in the community.”

Three main goals for housing in the county were discussed during the presentation. These goals were to maintain a diversity of housing options for all residents, increase available housing in the county for those who “most need options with less maintenance,” and to collaborate to better promote the county’s amenities to potential residents.

For each goal, there were a number of objectives discussed. For the first goal of maintaining diverse housing options, one of the four objectives was to have local units of government work with economic development organizations to support “at least one innovative housing construction project” in St. Joseph County every year. For the second goal, the singular objective listed was to have the county government work to ensure that seniors who own homes have the resources to maintain their quality of life and their home’s value.

For the third goal of collaboration, objectives included having local units of government participate in collaborative efforts with area chambers of commerce to promote existing amenities, and to have local jurisdictions agree that affordable and reliable broadband internet is a necessary amenity. In the plan itself, it targets a 100 megabits per second download speed and 10 megabits per second upload speed for all communities in the county by 2025. Adams said access to affordable broadband would make housing be competitive and desirable to those who want to live in the area.

Strengths and challenges of housing in the county, as well as plan recommendations, were discussed next. Adams said some overarching themes for recommendations, based on feedback gathered throughout the planning process, included maintaining and enhancing relationships between organizations in the county, citing that housing data in the county “doesn’t often get shared across stakeholders,” as well as expanding maintenance resources for senior and low-income homeowners.

“We think this is one of the most critical things you can do,” Adams told the more than 70 people from a multitude of local agencies in attendance. “We want to make sure houses don’t fall into disrepair and get to the point where they need to be demolished. Keeping them in the circulation of housing is critical to maintaining a healthy ecosystem.”

Adams also noted there were a limited number of options for rental properties in the county, saying people would often leave the county to find rental options that met their needs.

An “innovative approach,” Adams said, would be to help support workforce training and development programs, specifically related to construction trades.

“If there are homes that are in disrepair, possibly giving those as an incentive to people that go through those training programs to fix up and live in, or even fix up and flip, is getting more housing in the market,” Adams said.

Multiple breakout sessions were held to discuss the different aspects of the plan, and allow those in attendance to provide feedback on the plan.

View St Joseph County Housing Plan HERE

Brott Recognized as Health Hero and Honored by Michigan Public Health Week Partnership

Post Date: April 10, 2019

LANSING, Mich. – As part of National Public Health Week, 15 individuals and organizations will be presented with the 2019 Hometown Health Hero and Jean Chabut Health Policy Champion awards for their contributions to protecting and improving the health of Michigan residents on April 10 at the state Capitol.

The Michigan Public Health Week Partnership is hosting the event to honor those who are helping Michigan achieve its goal of “Creating the Healthiest Nation: For science. For action. For health." This year’s awards focus on healthy communities, violence prevention, rural health, technology and public health and climate change.

"The work of public health belongs to all of us,” said Robert Gordon, MDHHS director. “Today I’m honored to celebrate a few individuals who have pointed the way. Some are Democrats, some are Republicans. Some are health professionals, some are regular citizens who lives have been touched by tragedy. Some work in Detroit and some work in northern Michigan. All have found a way to make our people healthier and our state stronger."

Laura Brott – St. Joseph County Human Service, Centreville
Brott has found innovative ways to connect service providers with the residents in St. Joseph County in need of their services. She was integral to a website redesign that integrated a community calendar and the development of a comprehensive resource guide for service providers so appropriate referrals could be made beyond their own agencies. Annually, she has been instrumental in coordinating the annual Project Connect/Veterans Stand Down event; putting residents in touch with county services, health screenings, vaccinations and food assistance.

View Sturgis Journal Article HERE

Project Connect & Veteran Stand Down October 7th, 2020 at Centreville Fairgrounds

Post Date: December 17, 2019

Two Events - One time and location!

PROJECT CONNECT is a community resource fair open to everyone. Representatives from over 70 human service agencies serving St. Joseph County will be on site to connect guests with services they may need. Agencies will discuss services available for education, employment, health, housing & utilities, senior services, family services and more.

You can talk with providers and get connected IMMEDIATELY to agencies providing services.

You can find services to help NOW or discover available resources BEFORE you or a loved one may need assistance.

The event also includes:

  • Free medical screens
  • Free flu shots
  • Other shots and immunizations free to most
  • Food boxes to take home
  • Free lunch
  • Free haircuts
  • Mobile Secretary of State on site to do business offered in brick and mortar building
  • Free transportation available to and from this event within St. Joseph County. Contact St. Joseph County Transportation Authority at least 72 hours prior to the event. Call 269-273- 7808. If outside the local calling area: 1-800-964-5700.

Everyone is invited to attend!

VETERANS STAND DOWN – Come learn about the services and benefits eligible to you as a veteran or veteran’s spouse/family member.

Army surplus goods available free to Veterans who are enrolled in Battle Creek VA Healthcare System or bring their DD214, VA I.D., or Military I.D. with them. ALL VETERANS must bring a photo ID.

If you need assistance obtaining a copy of your DD214, please contact the St. Joseph County Veterans Services 467-5512, no later than September 1, 2019.

For more information contact Laura Brott 269-625-1820.

20,000 Help Cards Distributed

Post Date: December 17, 2019

Community Help Card

The newest Community Help Card (2019 print) is on ORANGE cardstock and available at DHHS, United Way, and various agencies across St. Joseph County. Thank you to St Joseph County United Way for covering the costs of printing!

Please discard any earlier versions of the help care you may have (green, yellow, etc).

To request cards to distribute at your agency, please contact Laura Brott at BrottL@michigan.gov.

Project Connect Returns to St. Joseph County October 5th

Post Date: September 28, 2018

Two Events - One time and location!

PROJECT CONNECT is a community resource fair open to everyone. Representatives from over 70 human service agencies serving St. Joseph County will be on site to connect guests with services they may need. Agencies will discuss services available for education, employment, health, housing & utilities, senior services, family services and more.

If you currently need help, you can talk with providers and get connected IMMEDIATELY to agencies providing services you may need now.

You also can discover available services BEFORE you or a loved one may need assistance.

The event also includes:

  • Free medical screens
  • Free flu shots
  • Other shots and immunizations free to most
  • Food boxes to take home
  • Free lunch
  • Free haircuts
  • Mobile Secretary of State on site to do business offered in brick and mortar building
  • Free transportation available to and from this event within St. Joseph County. Contact St. Joseph County Transportation Authority at least 72 hours prior to the event. Call 269-273-7808. If outside the local calling area: 1-800-964-5700.

Everyone is invited to attend!

VETERANS STAND DOWN – Come learn about the services and benefits eligible to you as a veteran or veteran’s spouse/family member.

Army surplus goods available free to Veterans who are enrolled in Battle Creek VA Healthcare System or bring their DD214, VA I.D., or Military I.D. with them. ALL VETERANS must bring a photo ID.

If you need assistance obtaining a copy of your DD214, please contact the St. Joseph County Veterans Services 467-5512, no later than September 1, 2018.

For more information contact Laura Brott 269-625-1820 or Natalie Boland 574-261-0091