December 22 2021

8 Mile & Woodward Update: Improving Conditions & Helping People

News Highlights

  • As a welcoming city, we believe that a busy travel thoroughfare exposed to the elements and lacking basic resources is not an adequate residence, and the people residing at the 8 Mile and Woodward intersection deserve better.
  • Our goal is to provide better options for the people currently residing at the intersection, and simultaneously improve the cleanliness and safety for the people who live, drive, walk, and bike in this area.
  • We've introduced a new and better way for you to help our homeless residents: HandUP Detroit.
  • New storage lockers will be introduced at the intersection to help with cleanups and improve blight and sanitation issues.
  • The underpass mural is slated for June 2022.

Human Services & Support

It’s a question we receive regularly: Why is nothing being done about the challenges at 8 Mile and Woodward?

The short answer: In actuality, much is being done. But complex situations call for thoughtful, strategic solutions, and those don’t always come quickly. The Cities of Detroit and Ferndale, along with MDOT and several nonprofit organizations, have been working since 2018 to address concerns regarding homelessness and blight at the intersection. (Read more about this project.)

Currently, Motor City Mitten Mission (assisted behind the scenes by Oakland County and the Cities of Detroit and Ferndale) is on site at least once daily, working with the individuals who reside/spend time at the intersection to identify barriers and solutions for obtaining permanent supportive housing. Detroit and Ferndale are engaging landlords to help increase the pool of available units for individuals in need of housing.

The Community Housing Network’s PATH program—Projects for Assistance in Transition from Homelessness—is working with 15 individual homeless clients who frequent this and other local intersections. Of these:

  • Four are at the end of the process, where housing placement is imminent
  • Nine are in the process of having government-issue identification provided to them, which has been a significant barrier to resource access
  • One has been provided a housing unit that is currently being prepped for occupancy
  • One is in the process of finalizing the occupancy process for a unit that's been identified for them

Physical Improvements

Cleanup and Debris

Despite regularly performed cleanups by staff, the Cities of Ferndale and Detroit have noted an increase in the accumulation of debris and materials at the intersection. We share our residents’ concerns and are committed to adapting our efforts to this renewed challenge.

Following input from the human services team, the Cities are pursuing a new approach: locked storage containers. Located on site at the intersection, these containers will provide sanitary storage and access for people who have not yet found housing through the PATH process. Going forward, all items outside of these boxes will be subject to immediate removal (items such as tents, prescribed medications, and personal identification cards will be stored for up to 30 days and made available for pickup at no cost).  

Storage containers will be deployed, following MDOT approval, in winter 2022, and if successful will be replaced with containers that are of a higher aesthetic quality and durability. Human service agencies will be empowered to provide and manage access to the containers at no charge to those who use them. They will be maintained by the cities of Detroit and Ferndale and replaced as needed.


The wall mural slated for installation under the bridge has been delayed due to unforeseen access issues. Originally planned to begin in fall 2021, installation is now on track and planned for completion by June 30, 2022.

How You Can Help

Our residents are invested in this process, and the people at the heart of it. You’ve asked us how you can get involved, how you can help the individuals residing at the intersection, and we’ve heard you.

While delivering food and other essentials is well intentioned and may seem like the right way to help, it actually contributes to the blight and unsanitary conditions. People who reside in the underpass have told us that they don’t often want or need these items, but don’t want to reject them for fear of animosity or a stop to further assistance. As a result, items pile up at the intersection and increase community frustration.

An easier and more effective way to help is here: We are happy to announce the launch of HandUP Detroit, a result of multiple partner agencies and a generous sponsorship by DTE Foundation.

The goal is simple: to help people find safe and easy access to whatever they need—needs that they may currently rely on panhandling to assist with. Whether it be clothing, healthcare, medication, housing, transportation, food, or any number of other things, HandUP Detroit will provide it to individuals on an as-needed basis.

In the future, if you want to assist our homeless residents, consider a donation to HandUP. Rather than guessing at what people want or need, your money will help provide food, warmth, shelter, and medical care—without contributing to ongoing challenges at this and other intersections.

What's Next

January 2022 through Spring

  • Ongoing cleanups coordinated with human services providers
  • Finalize MDOT permit for lights and long-term storage boxes
  • Temporary storage boxes deployed, pending approval

Spring 2022-June 30, 2022

  • Ongoing cleanups coordinated with human services providers
  • Mural installation
  • Lighting installation
  • Increased fundraising for human services support via HandUP Detroit
  • Coordination between Opportunity Detroit and See Click Fix Ferndale apps for digital reporting of cleanup concerns
  • Coordination with MDOT as they resurface 8 Mile Road in 2022 to ensure there is no harm to individuals and no damage to installed improvements
  • Community education campaign: how to support the individuals at the intersection
  • Landlord recruitment for housing placement

Questions or Concerns

Email with "8 AND WOODWARD" in the subject line.