Homeless veteran and youth populations in Michigan continue to decline

Media Contact: Misty Elliott
517-335-9847 | elliottm7@michigan.gov

October 2, 2019

Lansing, MICH. – Michigan is making progress among some homeless groups despite an overall increase in the homeless population, according to a report released today by the Michigan State Housing Development Authority (MSHDA).

According to Kelly Rose, chief housing solutions officer at MSHDA, the increase of homeless residents can be attributed to newer steps being taken by some communities to better document these populations in an effort to deliver services more effectively. In addition, communities are experiencing a shortage in affordable housing.

“This annual report tells a story about our collective work and it shows that we are making progress,” Rose said. “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 percent, 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.”

In addition to changes in coordinated home entry practices, the economy also plays a part. While the state’s economy has improved, poverty rates remain high in many communities, causing some of the issues associated with access to housing. For instance, 75 percent of families with extremely low income are overburdened, paying more than half of their income for housing. Many of those families are one crisis away from losing their homes. With family homelessness on the rise, the $649 average monthly household income is well below the amount needed to sustain housing.

The “Ending Homelessness in Michigan” report shows the overall homeless population increased by about 2,000, or slightly more than one percent, over the previous year, but points to a steady decline among the number of homeless veterans and youth aged 18-24 years.

Statewide, these categories dropped by about two percent, yet senior citizen and family homeless rates are increasing.

“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.”

Other key findings from the report include:
• 31% of seniors are experiencing homelessness for the first time after age 55.
• Family homelessness is increasing, and the average monthly household income across the state of $649 is well below the amount needed to sustain housing.
• 60% percent of homeless families are led by a single mother.
• 37% of homeless adults in families have an identified disability.
• More than 6,231 family households have exited homeless services.
• About 1 in 4 homeless, unaccompanied minors have had experience in the Michigan foster care system.
• About 5,047 chronically homeless and 21,786 single adults have exited homeless services over the past year.

According to the annual report’s introduction letter from Gov. Whitmer, “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.”

“Each year, MSHDA allocates more than $70 million in state and federal funding to help individuals experiencing homelessness with the end-goal of getting them into permanent housing,” Rose said. “This report shows us that we are making an impact but there is still work to be done.”

Over the past year, MSHDA has worked with several partners across the state to launch initiatives to provide broader access to resources for the homeless, such as connecting housing to health care, increasing targeted responses to veteran homelessness and putting a stronger focus on youth experiencing homelessness. These efforts are generating new solutions and improving outcomes for some of the most vulnerable people in the state.

The complete report can be found here: http://bit.ly/MIhomelessreport