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Michigan Poverty Task Force Visits Traverse City Leaders to Discuss New Policy Recommendations, Affordable Housing
August 17, 2022
Local leaders highlight affordable housing among top challenges impacting rural communities
TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. – State and local leaders met in Traverse City today to discuss the Michigan Poverty Task Force’s latest recommendations and share resources available to support families who need affordable housing. The Task Force recently released 29 new policy recommendations to lift struggling Michiganders out of poverty and improve their health outcomes, addressing issues such as affordable housing in rural communities.
“Housing is a social determinant of health that has been widely examined by researchers and there are many ways that homelessness or low-quality housing contribute to poor health outcomes,” said Kim Trent, who leads the task force and is the Deputy Director of Prosperity with the Michigan Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity (LEO). “The Poverty Task Force has proposed innovative policy strategies designed to provide more and better housing options and neighborhood amenities for low-income Michiganders.”
The Task Force, convened by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer in 2019, leverages the policy expertise of 14 state departments to create strategies that reduce poverty in Michigan. The 2021 report contained 35 recommendations, including 14 that have been adopted or have had significant momentum addressing gaps in the state’s social safety net, with critical investments included in Gov. Whitmer’s FY22 budget.
“Reducing poverty in Michigan is one of our top priorities and the Poverty Task Force has worked hard to create policy recommendations that will support hard-working Michiganders who are struggling to make ends meet,” said Susan Corbin LEO Director. “The recommendations create a path toward prosperity in Michigan’s urban and rural communities.”
2022 Recommendations were made in eight key focus areas:
• Housing, basic amenities and the environment
• Early childhood development
• Income and social protection
• Social inclusion and nondiscrimination
• Access to affordable health services of decent quality
• Food Insecurity
• Unemployment and Job Insecurity
“In our region where nearly 40% of the population is financially struggling it is vital that we all do more to support hard-working families and children,” said Seth Johnson, Executive Director of United Way of Northwest Michigan. “We are extremely grateful to the Poverty Task Force and their members for these recommendations and look forward to working with our community and state to implement them.”
The Traverse City event was held at Commongrounds and focused on affordable housing. Commongrounds is a real estate cooperative in Traverse City, with a goal to develop real estate that meets community needs and increases the quality of life in the region.
“We seek to create a space that is viable for our community,” said Kate Redman, Project Director and Co-Founder, Commongrounds. “We’re all working hard to try to address the issues around workforce housing and how we help balance the needs of the community with the growth that is happening all around us.”
The Michigan State Housing and Development Authority (MSHDA) supports expanding efforts to create access to affordable housing and applauds the Poverty Task Force for including the recommendation to provide Housing Choice Vouchers for returning citizens.
“Communities across the state – and right here in Traverse City – have struggled to provide affordable housing options, but through MSHDA’s first-ever statewide housing plan and strategies put forward by the Poverty Task Force, there is ample reason for optimism on the affordable housing front,” said Amy Hovey, Special Advisor to LEO.
“Housing North is working with our many stakeholders to remove barriers to housing in our 10-county region through communications, advocacy and capacity,” said Yarrow Brown, Executive Director of Housing North. “We need housing for all that live and work here and are committed to partnering with LEO, MSHDA and others to help implement the action items for housing outlined by the Poverty Task Force. Having our first statewide Housing Plan is also a huge step forward in addressing the housing needs in NW Michigan."
While most of the recommendations were introduced for the first time, the Poverty Task Force included five that were previously presented in the 2021 report that the group continues to support. Among them is the Task Force’s recommendation to boost the state’s earned income tax credit match, a proposal that could lift at least 22,000 Michiganders out of poverty.
Poverty Task Force continues to work with the Michigan Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity (LEO) and Gov. Whitmer in moving the needle forward on these recommendations and finding new ways to lift all Michiganders out of poverty.
More information on the Poverty Task Force is available at Michigan.gov/PovertyTaskForce.