Nearly eight years ago Doug Antishin was homeless and an undiagnosed paranoid schizophrenic. Now, thanks to Oakland County and the Community Housing Network, he’s a condo owner in Farmington and receives regular medical attention.
“I sure wouldn’t be here now if it weren’t for (the Community Housing Network),” the 46-year-old says. “I’m very thankful.”
In 2001 CHN hooked up with the Oakland County Community Mental Health Authority to help create housing options for people with disabilities. In the last seven years, Linda Velandra, a home buying manager for CHN, says that they’ve successfully helped 13 families, including Antishin.
“The program has worked out very well and very well for Doug,” Velandra says. “Doug was committed to improving his own situation. He’s doing very, very well.”
Antishin says he was homeless for two years before he walked into a hospital in Auburn Hills looking for help. With the assistance of Oakland County Mental Community Mental Health Authority, Antishin was properly diagnosed and given medication. Since then, he’s been on his way up. It started with a leasing assistance program the helped him shore up an apartment where he was for seven years. “He paid his rent on time, sometimes two months in advance,” Velandra says.
The Mental Health Authority also helped him find a job. “I’m a perfect employee,” he says, boastfully. He works at Sam’s Club in Novi.
Antishin’s ability to stabilize his life, hold a job, and pay his bills on time made him a perfect candidate for the home buying grants that CHN offers, which are only available in Oakland County.
Of course, individuals have to quality for them and, Velandra admits, it is quite a process to go through.
“There are a lot of points that the person has to qualify for,” she says. “You have to have good credit and be able to get a mortgage on your own. You have to be below a certain income. You have to either have a disability or someone in the family has to be disabled.”
She says that not everyone qualifies right away. They may have bad credit or just can’t get a mortgage. But, CHN doesn’t walk away.
“We do cultivate candidates,” she says. “If they don’t qualify right away there are other programs, financial classes for instance, that they can attended to help them get to where they need to be to for the program.”
So it was grants from the Federal Home Loan bank of Cincinnati and the Oakland County HOME Funds that made it possible for Antishin to purchase his condo in Farmington.
Velandra says that people shouldn’t look at the housing services that CHN offer as a quick fix. It takes time and a lot of effort. But, she says, they are there to help.
Though the CHN is an Oakland County organization, Pontiac, Southfield, Royal Oak, Farmington Hills, and Waterford do not offer the program to their residents. Velandra says that these cities have their own, specific home buying programs they work with.
Antishin’s life has come full circle thanks to Oakland County’s CHN.
“It was a long process,” he says. “I started in January and was approved in September. But it went well and it all worked out for me.”