Community Statewide News

November proclaimed Homeless Awareness Month

Image by Sri Harsha Gera from Pixabay

The state continues to see a stark racial disparity within the homeless population, according to the data. Catastrophic events, from slavery to segregation, have led to the systematic denial of access and equal rights for Black Americans which has resulted in Black Americans being far more likely to experience housing insecurity and homelessness. Unfortunately, we see this dynamic playing out in Michigan as Black Americans make up 14% of the general population but a staggering 52% of the homeless population. Governor Whitmer and leaders in her administration have made a commitment to addressing this disparity and working to ensure Black Michiganders have access to affordable housing.

As the state observes National Homeless Awareness Month, promising data shows the number of Michiganders experiencing homelessness is declining slightly. While this is a promising development, Governor Gretchen Whitmer said on Nov. 6 there is still more work to do to ensure every Michigander has access to safe, affordable housing.

According to data from Michigan’s Homeless Management Information System, the number of individuals experiencing homelessness in Michigan decreased from 65,104 in 2018 to 61,832 in 2019. Additionally, in 2019, the state saw a decline in family, youth (18-24) and veteran homelessness.

“Every Michigander deserves access to quality, safe, and affordable housing, and as we approach winter in Michigan, we must remember to do everything we can to reach that goal,” Whitmer said. “National Homeless Awareness Month is a time to create awareness and renew our commitment to eliminate homelessness. I will continue working with partners in state government and everyone else who wants to ensure everyone in our state can put a roof over their head.”

One of the ways the state has aimed to reduce homelessness is by ensuring housing stability during the COVID-19 pandemic. When the state’s eviction moratorium ended in July, the Eviction Diversion Program (EDP) was initiated and funded from Senate Bill 690, which appropriated $880 million in federal dollars from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act. The Senate bills called for $60 million to be set aside to establish a rental assistance program – of which $50 million has been dedicated to keeping renters in their homes with the remaining $10 million covering case management, legal, and administrative costs. The EDP is administered by the Michigan State Housing Development Authority and in collaboration with the Michigan Supreme Court and Department of Health and Human Services.

“The pandemic created additional challenges and vulnerabilities for Michiganders,” said Kelly Rose, chief housing solutions officer and chair of the Michigan Interagency Council on Homelessness.

“Many experienced housing instabilities and found themselves for the first time, facing homelessness,” Rose addedd. “The Eviction Diversion Program has already helped thousands of individuals and families stay in their homes, and we will help thousands more before the end of the year.”

To learn more about homelessness in Michigan and how you can help, visit Michigan.gov/mcteh.

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