5555 Conner St #2210, Detroit, MI 48213, USA

A Catalyst for Community Health and Well-being

In 2001, Holy Cross Services and SER Metro-Detroit, two of the leading community service organizations in the metro Detroit area, opened the Samaritan Center on Detroit’s eastside – a hub of educational, social, recreational, healthcare and community services – to support the neighborhoods adjacent to the complex. This joint venture project is located on the former Mercy Hospital campus at 5555 Conner Street in Detroit.

The Samaritan Center has since become a catalyst for community health and well-being. The opening of the Samaritan Center was the fulfillment of a pledge by former owner, Trinity Health, to donate the 580,000 square foot hospital campus to a community organization committed to serving the needs of this community. Through this joint mission, Holy Cross Services and SER Metro-Detroit converted the property into a center for community programs and services. The Samaritan Center is member of the Holy Cross Services family and Michigan’s largest one-stop, multi-service community center serving children, adults, seniors and families. Approximately 80 partners work collaboratively at the Center to provide services and support to one of Detroit’s most under-served communities. The Center attracts approximately 1,500 visitors daily and provides Healthcare, Employment, Housing, Transportation, Education, Food and Nutrition, and Financial Assistance services.

Recent enhancements to the Samaritan Center campus are part of an initiative that seeks to build integrated wellness campuses in each of
the Detroit’s seven city council districts. SER Metro-Detroit is a multi-service community-based organization with a 46-year history providing numerous citywide education, training and employment programs, and economic development for youth and adult Detroit residents and their families.

State of Community

Despite the clear impact the Samaritan Center has made on its surrounding community over the last 16 years, many needs persist. Nearly 100,000 residents reside in this district, with an average income of less than $14,000.Additionally, only about 35.6% of these residents received a high school diploma. The physical landscape is among the worst in the city and includes overgrown lots, blight, abandoned parks, and limited sidewalks and pedestrian walkways. In a 2016 Detroit Health Department study, they found that preventable, chronic diseases caused nearly 8 out of 10 deaths in this community. The average life expectancy of a child born in this neighborhood (zip code 48213) is 70 years, while just four miles east in a more affluent zip code it is 82 years.

This alarming disparity is among the worst in the nation, caused by many factors that the Samaritan Center and its partners have the unique ability to address. Most of these factors are tied to the social determinants of health found in many under-served communities: education and income, unsafe or unhealthy housing, opportunities for residents to engage in physical activity, proximity to highways, access to primary care doctors, unreliable public transit, limited social engagement, and residential segregation. Research continues to show that social, economic, and physical factors are just as important as traditional clinical health behaviors in determining health outcomes.