Advance Notice: Briefs

Homelessness increases across the state, especially for senior citizens, families

By: - October 2, 2019 2:27 pm

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Michigan saw an increase in the state’s homeless population this past year, especially for veterans and families, but according to the Michigan State Housing Development Authority (MSHDA) this is partly due to better documentation and reporting.

“This annual report tells a story about our collective work and it shows that we are making progress,” Kelly Rose, chief housing solutions officer at MSHDA, said in a press release Wednesday. “That being said, any increase in homelessness is unacceptable and we must do more. In recent years, we’ve reduced the homeless population in Michigan by up to 9%, and this year’s report shows, in some specificity, how we are planning to work together to address the slight increases we’ve seen over the past year.”

The report shows that the overall homeless population increased by about 1%, or about 2,000 Michiganders. There was a steady decline of about 2% for homelessness for veterans and individuals between 18 and 24 years old, the data showed. But for senior citizens and families, homeless rates are increasing.

According to Rose, some of the increase can be attributed to newer community efforts to better document these populations and deliver services. 

“Our local communities tirelessly continue to respond to individuals and families accessing Michigan’s homeless response system, but we know there’s more to be done,” Rose said. “As we work to put Michigan on the road to opportunity, now more than ever we need to keep on implementing innovative approaches to ensure everyone in Michigan has a place to call home.”

MSHDA has worked with several partners to provide broader access to resources, such as connecting housing to health care, and increasing targeted responses to veterans and youth experiencing homelessness.

“Service providers across the state are leveraging best practices and forging new partnerships to create a coordinated system focused on the diverse needs of individuals and families faced with homelessness,” Gov. Gretchen Whitmer wrote in the report. 

According to Rose, MSHDA allocates more than $70 million of state and federal funding annually for these programs.

“This report shows us that we are making an impact but there is still work to be done,” Rose said. 

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Allison R. Donahue
Allison R. Donahue

Allison R. Donahue is a former Michigan Advance reporter who covered education, women's issues and LGBTQ issues. Previously, she was a suburbs reporter at the St. Cloud Times in St. Cloud, Minn., covering local education and government. As a graduate of Grand Valley State University, she has previous experience as a freelance researcher for USA Today and an intern with WOOD TV-8.