How My State is Working to End Homelessness

This is a sponsored post written in partnership with MSHDA. All opinions are my own.

If you’ve been following along with my blog for a while, you know that I moved around a lot growing up and that I’ve lived in different places, but Michigan has always been the place that I call home. I might be biased, but I am a huge fan of this state and I love everything that it has to offer. As a Michigander, I get to experience all four seasons, enjoy great local foods and drinks from small businesses and restaurants in my area and explore all the natural beauty across the lower and upper peninsulas.

I feel so lucky to live and work in this state and to have a roof over my head every night. Being a young millennial homeowner in Michigan is empowering and exciting. Over the past few years, I have learned a lot about homeownership and what it takes to turn a house into a home. Owning a home is an exciting journey – it not only keeps you on your toes and presents new challenges, but it offers you a space to gather with loved ones and celebrate life’s special moments.

As I reflect on being a homeowner and having a safe place to spend each night, I realize that not everyone is as lucky as I am. Some people have experienced hardships that I have never gone through and have ended up being homeless as a result. For anyone in Michigan that is experiencing homelessness, the Michigan State Housing Development Authority (MSHDA) offers several resources and is working to eradicate homelessness in Michigan with the Michigan Campaign to End Homelessness (MCTEH).

This campaign is important because homeless services and housing programs provide a critical safety net for many people experiencing homelessness in Michigan. In 2006, the Governor launched the Campaign to End Homelessness, and across Michigan 60 local Continuum of Care bodies gathered to create their own local 10-year plan that provides focus, coordination, and implementation of actions to address homelessness in their community. Michigan’s Homeless Management Information System, a statewide data collection system that tracks who is homeless, how they became homeless, where they are, what services they need, how they currently are accessing services and the costs, has won national awards. All 83 counties in Michigan have access to a local organization designated as a Housing Assessment and Resource Agency. That means when people are homeless or at-risk of losing housing, there is a place for them to turn for help.

MSHDA spearheaded a statewide shift from a focus on sheltering to rapid re-housing, a model known as Housing First that stabilizes households and offers services that enable housing retention. Michigan continues to reallocate transitional housing resources into rapid re-housing services because temporary housing assistance minimizes trauma and expensive sheltering costs.

Now that you know a little bit more about the MCTEH and everything that the MSHDA has done to help in the effort to end homelessness, I wanted to share a few statistics about homelessness in Michigan to put things into perspective:

  • There are around 86,000 people experiencing homelessness in Michigan, enough people to populate a large city. Over one-third of the homeless are working poor, and nearly 60 percent are female heads of households.

  • Between 2014-2016 MSHDA decreased homelessness in Michigan by 9% and homelessness among Veterans decreased by 16%.

  • In 2016, Kent County became the first community in Michigan to achieve the Ending Veteran Homelessness designation from the United States Interagency Council on Homelessness. This means they achieved functional zero* for ending veteran homelessness.

    • * Functional zero is reached when the number of veterans who are homeless, whether sheltered or unsheltered, is no greater than the monthly housing placement rate for veterans.

    • There are 50 other communities and three states across the nation that have received this federal designation.

  • 85% of the total homeless population in Michigan were covered under health insurance, with Medicaid being the primary source.

  • Nearly half of the homeless population in Michigan have a diagnosed disability.

    • 67% experience mental health disabilities

    • 36% experience physical health disabilities

    • 29% experience substance use disorders

  • In 2016, there were 9,795 families with children who experienced homelessness.

    • Families experiencing homelessness are primarily single-parent households with 3/4 of those households being female-headed.

      • 65% of the adults are under the age of 35 and the majority (75%) of the children are under the age of 11.

  • The average length of time to house a family with children is approximately 73 days.

  • Factors influencing youth homelessness are:

    • family dysfunction, rejection and conflict

    • economic hardship / lack of employment

    • 1 out of every 7 homeless youth identified as lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgendered, increasing their risk of family rejection.

I know that was a lot of information to read through, but it’s important to communicate who is affected by homelessness and to understand some of the factors the lead to homelessness. We can all work together to end homelessness, but in order to do that, we need to take the first step in understanding who the homeless really are. If you live in Michigan, you can get involved by volunteering. In order to do so, click here or contact the Continuum of Care in your area.

If you want to learn more about the Michigan Campaign to End Homelessness (MCTEH), you can click here.