How Michigan is Eradicating Homelessness
This post was sponsored by the Michigan State Housing Development Authority. All opinions are my own.
Detroit is only a 15-minute drive from where I live and I’m fortunate enough to be able to complete my graduate studies in such an amazing and diverse environment.
Learning about the public health concerns that affect the population in Detroit has opened my eyes to how much potential there is to make positive changes there.
Over the next couple of years, I will have the opportunity to go into the community and do some field work, community assessments, analyze data we receive and implement community interventions.
There are so many initiatives in place already that help improve public health concerns in the city of Detroit. There are ones in place for health concerns such as asthma, diabetes, HIV/AIDS and heart disease. There are even initiatives in place for things like transportation, healthcare, and homelessness.
Homelessness is a topic we often discuss in my classes. It affects many people in Detroit and it is a noticeable public health issue that can be addressed.
There are a few homeless people who roam around campus and I often wonder what kind of help is available to them and whether or not they are receiving that help.
HOW MICHIGAN IS ERADICATING HOMELESSNESS
MSHDA initiated an effort to shift the focus from sheltering to rapid re-housing which helps stabilize households.
They offer services that enable housing retention and continue to reallocate housing resources. This initiative, also known as Housing First, helps minimize the cost of expensive sheltering.
Each county in Michigan actually has access to a local Housing Assessment and Resource Agency organization. This allows people to have a place to turn to for help when they are homeless or at-risk of losing their home.
These homeless services and housing programs provide a safety net for so many people that are experiencing homelessness in Michigan, which is actually around 86,000 people.
HOW DO WE KNOW WHO IS HOMELESS OR AT-RISK?
It is critical for us to be able to measure the amount of people who are homeless or at-risk of losing their home, so we can know exactly how and when to help them.
If we don’t know the amount of people in need of help, we wouldn’t be able to allocate resources or get funding to help those in need.
Michigan’s Homeless Management Information System is a statewide data collection system that tracks the following information:
- Who is homeless
- How they became homeless
- Where they are
- What services they need
- How they currently are accessing services and the costs
Being able to track this kind of information is important as it allows the organization to improve homelessness across Michigan. Once this information is collected, it makes the process of helping those in need a lot more efficient.
One thing I learned was that over a third of the homeless are actually working poor and almost half of the homeless in Michigan have a diagnosed disability. Of those with disabilities, 67 percent experience mental health disabilities, 36 percent experience physical health disabilities and 29 percent experience substance use disorders.
In 2016 alone, there were 9,795 families with children who experienced homelessness in which 65 percent of the adults were under 35 years old and approximately 75 percent of the children were under 11 years old.
In terms of the families with children who are experiencing homelessness, the majority them are primarily single-parents, female heads of households.
According to a report by the Michigan League for Public Policy, the average single parents needs to be making at least $3,680/month just to “make ends meet” however in reality, the average monthly income for homeless families at that time was only $770/month.
As a single mom, this really hits home for me and I hope that through these efforts by the MSHDA we are able to help eradicate the homelessness situations in Michigan.
MSHDA: THE HOUSING AUTHORITY
Knowing that the MSHDA is spearheading an initiative to help eradicate homelessness in Michigan makes me appreciate them even more as a housing authority since homelessness is a huge public health concern in Detroit.
I hope we can continue learning more about homelessness and work on more efforts to help more people get into homes, not just shelters.
MSHDA has a ton of resources available if you are interested in learning more about their homelessness efforts as well as housing resources if you are looking to purchase your own home, too.
WHAT ARE SOME WAYS ORGANIZATIONS NEAR YOU ARE HELPING ERADICATE HOMELESSNESS? WHICH RESOURCE WOULD YOU BE INTERESTED IN LEARNING MORE ABOUT?
For more details about the Michigan Campaign to End Homelessness (MCTEH).