Dad of 3 children shares his family's struggle with homelessness

Posted at 5:38 PM, Aug 14, 2017
and last updated 2017-08-15 09:15:00-04

According to the state, about 100 thousand people find themselves homeless every year here in Michigan. 

More than half of the people who are homeless are in families with children. However for them, it can be much harder to get help. 

Dujuan Knighten learned this first-hand. 

He says he is a single father to three children, ages 3, 5, and 7. He was working to support them doing landscaping, tree-trimming, and DJ jobs. He was working-poor, but making do. 

Then his transmission went on his car. He didn’t have money to repair it. He couldn’t get to work. He lost his jobs.  He soon found his family living on the streets. It got to the point where CPS told him he needed to find shelter or he could lose his children. He had called shelters, but could not get help. 

He showed up crying in desperation on the doorstep of the Coalition on Temporary Shelter or COTS Detroit. The program director there found a way to bring him in.

“Here in Detroit, as far as I know, we are the only families-only homeless shelter,” said Charles Pearson, COTS Program Director.

“Mr. Pearson, he helped me and my family out,” said Dujuan

“There aren’t a lot of resources for families,” said Pearson.  “There aren’t a lot of resources period.”

Area shelters have teamed up to save resources. They joined the Homeless Action Network of Detroit, or HAND.  It provides leadership between shelters. It runs a phone line you can call if you are in need of help, and then refers clients to the shelter that can best meet their needs at the time in Detroit, Hamtramck and Highland Park. 

The number is 313-305-0311. Last year the line received about 16,000 calls for help.  Backlogs are common.

For Dujuan, COTS not only provided shelter, but coaches helping him get assistance, prepare to get a job, and find housing.
His housing counselor told me they couldn’t help with everything.  Dejuan said he feared he would lose the housing lined up because he couldn’t scrape together $100 for a deposit without a job while caring for 3 little ones.

“I don’t want to see my kids on the streets. Nobody does. I pray every day. I try to have a positive mind,” said Dujuan.

No one can help everyone, but sometimes you can help one person.  Member of the Seven Action News team came together to help Dujuan get beds for his children and a deposit.

COTS is asking members of the public to help them help others with children  - like Dujuan  - who should have a home Tuesday- and he hopes a job and car soon.  They sometimes share the stories of people in need of someone to sponsor them with a hand-up on the COTS Detroit Facebook page.

“When I reach for the door to go in tomorrow it will be the best day ever in my life,” said Dujuan

COTS is accepting donations of money, clothes, diapers, wipes, and hygiene products.  You can learn more at