By: UCHC Staff
Published: Nov. 14, 2023
It was a packed house at Marygrove Conservancy on Thursday night as United Community Housing Coalition celebrated another year of homelessness prevention in Detroit.
Longtime senior affordable housing advocate Michelle Fallena and Cass Corridor affordable housing developer Patrick Dorn each received a Lifetime Achievement Award while UCHC board member Cassandra Walker was honored as Volunteer of the Year.
Sharon LeMieux received the Outstanding Staff Award and former Director of the City of Detroit Office of Eviction Defense April Faith-Slaker received the Honorary Detroiter Award.
For her tireless advocacy to prevent the eviction of low-income Detroiters from their homes, UCHC recognized legendary local attorney Vanessa Fluker as its 2023 Client Advocate of the Year.
"Vanessa is an attorney who has done amazing things for her entire career, but particularly in this last year," said UCHC Executive Director Ted Phillips. "I've never known anyone [who] litigated cases from their hospital bed."
Despite multiple health challenges in recent months, Fluker has remained steadfast in her advocacy for her clients.
"We thank you for your superhuman efforts," said Michigan Legal Services Executive Director Marilyn Mullane. "And we wish you a full recovery as we recognize your tremendous work."
Fluker reflected on her long career in homelessness prevention and, in particular, the complex litigation that often comes with it.
One case in particular stood out for Fluker, who recalled working with UCHC in the dead of winter to help a homeless man who had suffered a stroke.
"I had a client that called me up, he had just gotten out of the hospital — he had a stroke and lost his [home]," Fluker said. "This was in the middle of the polar vortex, he's sleeping in a car with no heat. I don't know what Ted did, but within a week he had that man in stable housing."
"It only takes one little mishap in your life," Fluker added, "and that can be you. ... So, yes, we are our brother's keeper."
Special thanks to the McGregor Fund, the United Way for Southeastern Michigan, the Gilbert Family Foundation, and the Rocket Community Fund for making this event possible.
Everything we saw at UCHC's 49th Annual Dinner
(photos by Rebecca Cook)
Download UCHC's 2023 Annual Report
At UCHC, we believe that housing is a human right, and we know you do, too. Your generous support helps us keep our low-income neighbors safe and secure in their homes throughout the year. To help support UCHC, click here.