William Breeding, of Eastpointe, pictured, is trying to get the word out about a Salvation Army program that helped him get back on his feet.

William Breeding, of Eastpointe, pictured, is trying to get the word out about a Salvation Army program that helped him get back on his feet.

Photo provided by Tracy Wolf

Eastpointe man aided by Salvation Army program

By: Brendan Losinski | Metro | Published February 19, 2021

EASTPOINTE/WARREN — Eastpointe resident Willian Breeding was homeless, out of a job and unsure what to do about his future. A Salvation Army program changed all of that.

He was taken in at the organization’s MATTS shelter in Warren, and the people there gave him the tools he needed to get his life back on track.

“It’s the Macomb’s Answer to Temporary Shelter, and what we want to do is help homeless clients find permanent housing,” explained Major Tim Meyer, the Eastern Michigan Division general secretary. “It’s more than just a shelter where people can stay in an emergency. We want it to be a bridge to permanent housing. It’s for men, women and children.”

“It is a tremendous program that helped me to gain employment, to get my vehicle back and get into an apartment,” said Breeding. “The staff was phenomenal. If someone is willing to do the right things, they will back you up.”

Meyer said their key philosophy is that giving someone a meal or a bed for the night isn’t enough — to get someone off the street, those trying to help have to look at why they are in that situation to begin with.

“There’s always a reason why someone becomes homeless,” he explained. “Even if they are leaving domestic abuse, there’s a reason that has upset their life. We do a lot of things such as case management, helping with clothing and medical care — we perform financial assistance, and we provide a lunch program. If there are substance abuse issues, we have counseling and support programs.”

Breeding said that MATTS helped him look at his core issues and gave him the hand up he needed to overcome them.

“Since I got a vehicle, they helped me get insurance. Since I got a job, they helped me out with housing,” he said. “I was out looking for employment every day. I worked with a case worker through Michigan Works! … They work with other groups to pay your security deposit and three months’ rent.”

He said the program made all the difference in the world for him.

“I was basically living at a golf course bridge, homeless,” Breeding said. “I had nothing over my head but an umbrella, and everything I owned was in a backpack I would stash in the woods. I ended up coming to MATTS. Now everything is falling into place the way it’s supposed to. I first had to find shelter so I could look for a job. They gave me that, they gave me meals so I didn’t have to worry about food and it let me save up money. It’s one of the best programs I’ve ever seen.”

Meyer said a big step people need to take is overcoming the stereotypes around homelessness.

“There is a stereotype for homelessness, and that is changing,” he said. “A lot of people know someone who has become homeless, and we want to overcome this idea that everyone who is homeless has made a mistake or has a drug problem. No one chooses to be homeless; there is something in their life that has upset things and that has only increased during COVID-19. There can be an illness or a loss of transportation or the loss of a job that can bring about a big downturn in someone’s life and could lead to homelessness. These things tend to snowball, like when an illness leads to not being able to afford transportation, which leads to someone not being able to make it to a job. We want to offer people in that type of situation a place to go and get help.”

The person receiving the help has to play their part, too. Breeding said that if he wasn’t willing to put in the effort, everything the MATTS team did for him would have been for nothing.

“You have to be willing to better yourself,” he said. “There are people who prefer to stay homeless and just stay here for 90 days and won’t look for a job or a place to live. The staff will help you get your life together, but you have to show you are willing to do your part.”

Breeding hopes he can help get the word out about resources such as MATTS so others can get the sort of help he did.

“It took me a while to realize that there are places like this that will help,” said Breeding. “People hit roadblocks in life. I was working someplace where the ceiling caved in after an explosion next door. I went through what little savings I had really quick. These things can happen fast.”

Although the facility Breeding got help at is located in Warren, there are several located across the metro Detroit area.

“They can contact the Salvation Army directly at www.salmich.org if they are in need or want to help us,” said Meyer. “It talks about the services we provide and where we provide them in southeastern Michigan. Where we send them depends on their needs and their location.”

Breeding said he is on a good path now and that he is thankful every day for the people who helped him get there.

“It’s amazing that today I have a very good job, I like the people I work with and I still visit the people at MATTS,” he remarked. “They still are helping me by trying to find a trailer I can move into instead of the one-bedroom apartment I have.”