Metro Detroit nonprofit helping the homeless amid coronavirus outbreak

Posted at 6:07 PM, Apr 01, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-01 23:27:18-04

(WXYZ) — When you talk about the coronavirus or symptoms of the illness, the need to quarantine is often mentioned. But what if you can’t? What about the population of people who have no place to call home? Where do they go?

7 Action News Reporter Andrea Isom shows how the needs of metro Detroit's homeless population are being met, and how more people are facing that harsh reality.

“(I) empathize with those in our community who struggle this way all the time," said Ryan Hertz passionately. "(Those) who are constantly challenged with what may appear to be impossible circumstances.”

Hertz is the president and CEO of Lighthouse. He and his team work tirelessly to serve the homeless and less fortunate in metro Detroit, all men, women and children. Now, the coronavirus has broadened the problem and greatly increased the need.

“We are providing emergency food right now," Hertz said. "We are continuing to provide emergency shelter. We are working with other shelters in the community, in a partnership. We don’t have the luxury to close down, we have to provide even more services than we provided before.”

They're helping people who have lost their jobs, perhaps their house. Some families who now no longer have the means to give their loved ones three meals a day.

“It’s truly life-changing for people right now," Hertz said. "And it’s put our organization, thank God, in the position where we don’t have to say no to people."

This fact is because of the continuous outpouring of support from neighbors, organizations, communities and companies.

Gardener White Furniture is one of them.

“In our case, at Gardner White we have a sideline fleet, that we might as well use for a greater purpose. So, now the white trucks that you see on the road are delivering food to families and children in need. And unfortunately, there is a lot of them and a growing number of them in our community," says Rachel Tronstein-Stewart, president of Gardner-White Furniture.

Lighthouse still needs all the help it can get in the form of food, volunteers and donations.

“It would mean a lot more if you contributed to our campaign, our emergency resources financially," Hertz said. "We can make your dollar go further, we can buy bulk wholesale food. and we can keep you safe and we can keep our volunteers safe."

Lighthouse has officially moved its food packaging facility to Oakland University. This centralized location will help better accomplish their additional mission of assisting those who need it in the midst of COVID-19 pandemic.

If everyone does a little, it will go a long way. Remember, we are stronger together!

To find out ways to help in this effort, visit

Additional Coronavirus information and resources:

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View a global coronavirus tracker with data from Johns Hopkins University.

Find out how you can help metro Detroit restaurants struggling during the pandemic.

See all of our Helping Each Other stories.

See complete coverage on our Coronavirus Continuing Coverage page.