Homeless shelter fights to stay open as mental health cases rise in Monroe

Oaks Homeless Shelter plays massive part in community but only receives grant money once a year from state

MONROE, Mich. – A Monroe homeless shelter is in jeopardy of permanently shutting down if it doesn’t get help from an agency that will assist with mental health cases.

Oaks Homeless Shelter plays a massive part in the community but only receives grant money from the state once a year.

Now the shelter is asking for assistance from the Monroe Community Mental Health Authority.

This shelter has been around for nearly a decade. Sadly that may no longer be the case come Feb. 17.

“We finally got to the point where we said, ‘Listen, we’re a shelter, we’re going to shut down if we can’t get some mental health support,” said Pastor Heather Boone. “We are not a mental health facility. It’s not fair.”

Oaks Homeless Shelter is a place of rest and refuge for more than 30 men, women, and children in Monroe down on their luck.

But in just 15 days, the shelter will be closing its doors for good because it can no longer care for people with mental disorders due to a lack of resources.

Read: Monroe County pastor reunites homeless man with long-lost family

Boone is the woman in charge of the shelter who’s been holding the place together by threads for the past nine years.

She says in that time, she’s seen countless mental health breakdowns that, realistically, they can’t do much about.

“We are just seeing so many people, many schizophrenic breaks people who are severely mentally ill people who are begging for help,” Boone said.

Boone says the issue is the lack of mental health resources she’s been begging the county to provide. Just recently, it was three mental health incidents in one day.

“We’ve had moms with 3-week-old babies threatening to throw the baby out the window,” Boone said. “We have emails where we have been trying to work with our community mental health for the last seven, eight years to ask for support. They are the gatekeepers to all the mental health services in Monroe County.”

The community has swiftly responded with people donating. Recently, Local 4 showed you people working to raise money for the shelter, but Boone believes there needs to be more.

Read: High school senior pays it forward with special concert for shelter in Monroe

Sandy Lunsford, a board member of community mental health, says this issue could have been solved long ago.

“It’s very frustrating because you know if the issues that have been brought started bringing eight years ago, had been listened to, we wouldn’t be at this point right now,” said Lunsford.

The first thing that’s needed is a crisis stabilization unit nearby for them even to start the conversation about staying open.

About the Authors:

Victor Williams joined Local 4 News in October of 2019 after working for WOIO in Cleveland, OH, WLOX News in Biloxi, MS, and WBBJ in Jackson, TN. Victor developed a love for journalism after realizing he was a great speaker and writer at an early age.

Brandon Carr is a digital content producer for ClickOnDetroit and has been with WDIV Local 4 since November 2021. Brandon is the 2015 Solomon Kinloch Humanitarian award recipient for Community Service.