LANSING, MI — Michigan has made steady progress in reducing homelessness and is succeeding at prioritizing those most in need by providing quality Housing First care, according to a report released today by the Michigan State Housing Development Authority in conjunction with the Michigan Campaign to End Homelessness.
“While many parts of the country are seeing increases in the number of people experiencing homelessness, we’ve reduced the homeless population in Michigan by nine percent in recent years,” said Earl Poleski, executive director at MSHDA.
“This annual report tells a story about our collective work, and the story is that we are making progress where it matters most.”
A major success highlighted by the report shows a 16 percent drop in homelessness among veterans. Earlier this year Kent County received a prestigious federal designation as the first Michigan community to functionally end veteran homelessness.
“As unprecedented as this U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness designation is, the path can be replicated if there is a collective will to do it,” Poleski said during an event last week to celebrate Kent County’s achievement. “Understanding this, I believe we can—and will—expand this goal of ending not only veteran homeless but all chronic homelessness across Michigan.”
Addressing homelessness in Michigan includes offering important supportive services to care for their mental and physical well-being.
Eighty-five percent of the homeless population in Michigan had health insurance in 2016 and the vast majority—91 percent—of veterans, families with children and people experiencing chronic homelessness were covered. The primary source of their health insurance is Medicaid.
“Governor Snyder’s decision to create the Healthy Michigan Plan has been life-changing and life-saving for many of the people we serve,” said Nick Lyon, director of the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services. “The Healthy Michigan Plan has provided access to regular, affordable health care coverage for more than 650,000 Michiganders.”
MDHHS, a partner with the Michigan Campaign to End Homelessness, contributes $32 million annually to address homelessness in local communities.
Michigan is seeing some overall trends that break stereotypes about the face of homelessness. Families with children made up almost half–43 percent--of Michigan’s homeless population in 2016.
According to the report, these families are typically single women with young children.
The group with the largest increase in homelessness was seniors aged 55 and up, whose numbers climbed from 7,282 in 2014 to 7,919 in 2016.
“MSHDA allocates more than $70 million in state and federal funding each year to help individuals experiencing homelessness with the goal of getting them into permanent housing,” said Kelly Rose, chief housing solutions officer at MSHDA and governor-appointed chair of the Michigan Interagency Council on Homelessness. “This report shows us that we are making an impact, but there is still work to be done.”