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Michigan reports a 19% drop in homelessness

Homeless photo

“We haven’t seen something this dramatic in quite a while," Jason Weller, Coordinator for the Michigan Campaign to End Homelessness, said.

A year ago, the Michigan State Housing Development Authority (MSHDA) and other government agencies launched a 2020-2022 Action Plan of Ending Homelessness. It found rates of homelessness were down 19%, a number coordinator for the state campaign, Jason Weller, said was fairly unprecedented.

“We haven’t seen something this dramatic in quite a while," he explained.

Naturally, many are asking the big question, "How were numbers able to drop so significantly?" Weller said the explanation can't be simplified to an exact cause or measure.

“The short answer is it’s complicated," he laughed.

The group’s 2020 annual report lists eviction moratoriums and MSHDA’s eviction diversion program as helpful contributing factors, but also notes that the number in reporting could have dropped off because of the Stay at Home order and individuals opting to stay with friends, family or even in their own car as opposed to congregate living shelters during the height of the pandemic.

No matter the reasoning, Weller says more work still has to be done, specifically among communities of color who are over represented in homeless populations both state and nationwide. He’s created diverse listening sessions, getting insight from homeless service providers, officials and those who have experienced housing insecurity.

“The people who have the best understanding of our homeless response system across the state are the people who’ve gone through it.”

Main points of the state's action plan are increasing access to affordable housing, using cross sector collaboration to impact the other social determinants of health that lead to housing insecurity, enhancing the homeless delivery system and increasing prevention and diversion efforts.

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