Michigan sees decline in people experiencing homelessness

As the state observes National Homeless Awareness Month, promising data shows the number of Michiganders experiencing homelessness is declining.

While this is a promising development, Governor Gretchen Whitmer said 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, there has been a slight decline in the number of individuals experiencing homelessness in Michigan 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.

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, this dynamic is playing out in Michigan as Black Americans make up 14% of the general population but a staggering 52% of the homeless population. 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.

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.