Downtown Detroit Partnership Creates $4 Million Roger Penske Fund to Endow Homeless Outreach Program

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DETROIT, Mich., November 22, 2010 – The Downtown Detroit Partnership (DDP) announced today the creation of the $4 million Roger Penske Detroit Fund to permanently endow the 2-1-1 On The Go! homeless outreach program DDP operates with the United Way of Southeast Michigan. 

DDP Chair Cynthia J. Pasky said the endowment has been initially funded by $2 million from a charitable foundation that was attached to the now defunct Collins & Aikman Corporation which will be matched by $2 million in private contributions.  The fund will be administered by the Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan.  

2-1-1 On the Go! is a collaboration of the DDP, Penske, the United Way for Southeast Michigan and Strategic Staffing Solutions, Inc. (S3).  Under the program, two teams cruise downtown streets and environs searching for homeless individuals.  Their autos are equipped with wireless Internet access that allows them to offer immediate on-site assistance by providing eligible individuals with tools to overcome the common barriers to employment and permanent housing.  

The workers are able to plug homeless individuals into programs that are a part of the United Way’s existing 2-1-1 program that connects people with health and human services ranging from job training, to substance abuse treatment, to assistance with heating, food, housing, utilities, mental health counseling and others.

Penske stepped down as chair of the DDP earlier this fall after nearly five years in the position but remains on the board as Vice Chair.  2-1-1 On The Go! was created three years ago during his chairmanship.  Penske donated the two cars used in the outreach program. 

“I can think of no better way to honor Roger’s service to this community,” Pasky said.  “For all of the things that he does – the billion dollar companies, the racing victories and all of his other accomplishments – I think the most important thing he has done is allow something to happen that has probably saved the lives of at least 100 people in the last three years.  There’s nothing that can compare with that.”

Penske said, “I can think of no greater purpose for this new fund than assuring the continued operation of 2-1-1 On The Go!  I am honored and humbled that my fellow DDP board members would incorporate my name into the fund’s title.” 

Collins & Aikman Corp., an auto supplier, closed its doors in 2007.  The bankruptcy court ruled that the Collins & Aikman Foundation, as a 501c3 charitable fund, was not an asset of the corporation and could not be included in the bankruptcy settlement with creditors.  The court ruled last July that the fund should be used for charitable activities in Detroit. 

Detroit attorney Stacy Fox, a partner in the Roxbury Group, was appointed Chief Administrative Officer and General Counsel for Collins & Aikman when it went through bankruptcy.  In that role, she became a director of all of the subsidiary companies, including the Collins & Aikman Foundation, a 501c3 nonprofit that had about $2 million in assets. 

After conducting extensive research to identify an appropriate charitable use for the funds, Fox, with the approval of the bankruptcy court, designated that the fund would be used to endow 2-1-1 On The Go! under the auspices of the Community Foundation. 

In three years of operation 2-1-1 On The Go! has made contact with more than 1,600 homeless individuals and enrolled nearly 250 of them in programs to help them get their lives together.  That includes finding full-time employment for more than 100 homeless individuals and permanent housing for more than 75. 

This year the program has expanded its initiatives with two new programs.  The first involves a partnership with DTE Energy to assist families who are in danger of becoming homeless because their utilities are going to be shut off.  As a result 58 families have had their utilities reconnected, enabling them to stay in their homes. 

The second initiative resulted in partnering with five homeless service agencies to verify the uninhabitable dwellings of homeless individuals to secure assistance for them through the Homelessness Prevention & Rapid Rehousing Program.  As a result, 34 families have been placed in stable, permanent housing. 

About Downtown Detroit Partnership:

The Downtown Detroit Partnership (DDP) is a private/public partnership of corporate and civic leaders.  DDP engages business, government, and civic leaders in developing initiatives to strengthen Downtown Detroit’s employment, entertainment and residential assets, as well as advancing diversity, vitality and economic health for Southeast Michigan’s urban core.  For more information, visit www.DowntownDetroit.org.

 

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