Detroit’s Freedom House Might Close: Please Help

Freedom House Dinner

Freedom House, a small former convent located just under the Ambassador Bridge in Detroit has been providing food, shelter, and support for asylum seekers for more than 30 years. Most that walk through its doors do not speak English, have been forcibly separated from their friends and families, have been beaten, tortured and endured just about every type of injustice that one can speak of.

Residents come from Rwanda, Libya, Cameroon, Russia and elsewhere. They arrive dazed, malnourished, often sick, and suffering from post traumatic stress.

To obtain asylum in the United States, a refugee must prove that he or she is truly deserving of asylum, a difficult task. Oppressive political bodies don’t usually provide certificates of torture. Given that asylum seekers cannot legally work during their application period, Freedom House offers a place to stay.

In the past, Freedom House has offered English lessons, employed a staff of approximately 10 and provided legal support for all who seek help. They can boast that they’ve never lost a legal bid for political asylum in the United States.

Now, with the loss of a major grant, it looks like this beacon of the American way will have to close. In a present day climate that continually denigrates immigrants, the poor and those that don’t follow the same religious path as those guys in suits in Washington, it’s doubtful that an institution like Freedom House can drum up much support in the state or federal legislatures. Degorah Drennan, who runs Freedom House, has reported that she has had to lay off nearly her entire staff and is relying on volunteers to maintain daily operations.

Thus, they are appealing for help from private citizens. Even just $25 will go to feed all the people staying at Freedom House for a day. $75 can get a bus bass for a resident. $250 can a refugee a driver training and a license.

They will surely take more, and they will surely take less.

Freedom House is what America is supposed to be about and it’s depressing that our governmental bodies have let them down. Appealing for $10 and $25 donations individuals for a little known but vastly important cause is not a solution. It’s a temporary fix, but any help would be appreciated.

You can donate here.

Freedom House informational video

About Pete Larson

Researcher at the University of Michigan Institute for Social Research. Lecturer in the University of Michigan School of Public Health and at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. I do epidemiology, public health, GIS, health disparities and environmental justice. I also do music and weird stuff.

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  1. Please consider a gift to Detroit’s Freedom House - April 13, 2011

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