They were looking for help. Ferndale resource fair brought hope.

Ferndale — Paper bags filled with hand warmers, beanies and socks were lined on a table in the tent set up outside the Baymont hotel on Eight Mile on Sunday afternoon, with piles of warm winter clothes to be picked up by families and others who came for the homeless resource fair inside. 

Dozens of people showed up in the bitter cold to get clothes, a hot meal, housing and job assistance and free health screenings at the fair organized by New Era Detroit, which also bought about 40 families a night’s stay at the hotel. 

“It’s so cold, people have a hard time walking to their vehicles right now, let alone sleeping on the street,” said Zeek Williams, the nonprofit’s founder. 

The group, formed in 2014 to “restore Black unity in Black communities in Detroit as well as across the nation,” partnered with local organizations to help families they serve figure out long-term solutions while fulfilling their short term housing needs, according to Williams. 

The organization relies mostly on donations to secure essential supplies for the communities it serves, Williams said, and has adopted the term “mudroots” for the kind of outreach work it does. 

“Mudroots allows us to go deeper than grassroots work,” said Williams. “(It’s about) being able to go a bit underground, and start from the core of our issues and build from there.”