Friendship House is a community resource network of “neighbors helping neighbors” in the uniquely diverse cities of Hamtramck and Detroit. Friendship House is dedicated to meeting basic human needs and fulfilling our dreams for a healthy and peaceful community, through the power of God at work in the world.
Founded in 1929, Friendship House was started by Minnie Shepherd who convinced the Detroit Missionary Society of the American Baptist Home Mission Society of the need to establish a mission in Hamtramck to serve the community. During the Great Depression, programs centered on basic needs such as food and clothing. Even in those early days, English classes for immigrants were offered, and Hamtramck continues to be a portal entry point for immigration in Michigan. Over the years, Friendship House offered Sunday school classes, weekday clubs, counseling, preschool education, recreational activities, parenting classes, sewing classes, tutoring, English as a Second Language, senior citizen services, adult basic education and emergency assistance. Hamtramck has been the richer for Friendship House’s presence over the past 77+ years.
Friendship House works closely with other organizations in Hamtramck and nearby Detroit, especially through HUSS (Hamtramck United Social Services) which meets monthly to share resources, program information, training and collegiality.
Hamtramck, known in recent years as a Polish enclave in the Detroit area, has changed dramatically over the past decade. It is the major entry portal to Detroit for new immigrants from Somalia, China, Bosnia, Pakistan, India, Jordan, Yemen, Albania and Poland. In fact, 39.4% of Hamtramck residents are foreign born. Friendship House does not discriminate against anyone for any reason, including ethnicity and religion.
Median income for Hamtramck is $26,616, the third lowest in the Metro Detroit area. For the neighborhood surrounding Hamtramck (zip code 48203), the median income is only $17,737, the lowest in Metro Detroit. The majority of area residents do not have a high school diploma, and 75% of the students in the public schools qualify for free or reduced price meals.
Unemployment in Michigan is at an all-time low, and Hamtramck and nearby neighborhoods have been hit particularly hard by the economic downturn.