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Nonprofit helps Detroit's sizable homeless population by providing jobs, chance to give back

  • In a Tuesday, March 3, 2015 photo, Veronika Scott of The Empowerment Plan Detroit, helps Todd Frank test wear one of her sleeping bag coats she designed, in Pontiac, Mich. Scott, a former design student is trying to help the homeless population in two distinct ways by employing and training homeless women to manufacture a garment that serves as both a coat and a sleeping bag. The coats then are distributed back to homeless people at no cost to them. (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)

    In a Tuesday, March 3, 2015 photo, Veronika Scott of The Empowerment Plan Detroit, helps Todd Frank test wear one of her sleeping bag coats she designed, in Pontiac, Mich. Scott, a former design student is trying to help the homeless population in two distinct ways by employing and training homeless women to manufacture a garment that serves as both a coat and a sleeping bag. The coats then are distributed back to homeless people at no cost to them. (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)  (The Associated Press)

  • In a Tuesday, March 3, 2015 photo, Veronika Scott of The Empowerment Plan Detroit, demonstrates her sleeping bag coat to people at a homeless shelter in Pontiac, Mich. Scott, a former design student, is trying to help the homeless population in two distinct ways by employing and training homeless women to manufacture a garment that serves as both a coat and a sleeping bag. The coats then are distributed back to homeless people at no cost to them. (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)

    In a Tuesday, March 3, 2015 photo, Veronika Scott of The Empowerment Plan Detroit, demonstrates her sleeping bag coat to people at a homeless shelter in Pontiac, Mich. Scott, a former design student, is trying to help the homeless population in two distinct ways by employing and training homeless women to manufacture a garment that serves as both a coat and a sleeping bag. The coats then are distributed back to homeless people at no cost to them. (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)  (The Associated Press)

  • In a Tuesday, March 3, 2015 photo, Veronika Scott of The Empowerment Plan Detroit, demonstrates how to roll up her sleeping bag coat to people at a homeless shelter in Pontiac, Mich. Scott, a former design student is trying to help the homeless population in two distinct ways by employing and training homeless women to manufacture a garment that serves as both a coat and a sleeping bag. The coats then are distributed back to homeless people at no cost to them. (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)

    In a Tuesday, March 3, 2015 photo, Veronika Scott of The Empowerment Plan Detroit, demonstrates how to roll up her sleeping bag coat to people at a homeless shelter in Pontiac, Mich. Scott, a former design student is trying to help the homeless population in two distinct ways by employing and training homeless women to manufacture a garment that serves as both a coat and a sleeping bag. The coats then are distributed back to homeless people at no cost to them. (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)  (The Associated Press)

A 25-year-old former design student is trying to help those who have no place to live in two ways: offering warmth for the short term and employment for the longer.

Veronika Scott's brainchild led to a nonprofit that employs and trains homeless women in Detroit to manufacture a garment that serves as both a coat and a sleeping bag. The items then are distributed to homeless people across the city, the region and beyond.

The Empowerment Plan nonprofit employs as full-time seamstresses more than a dozen women Scott met at shelters.

Arnetta Smith has made the coats for several years. As a result, the 38-year-old no longer lives in a shelter or relies on state assistance. Smith says the Empowerment Plan is more like a family than a job.