Homelessness in Michigan down 19 percent in 2020 according to new report

October 20, 2021

Media Contacts: Anna Vicari, VicariA@michigan.gov 
Katie Bach, BachK@michigan.gov

Lansing, Mich. - Homelessness throughout Michigan dropped 19% in 2020, according to the latest Ending Homelessness in Michigan annual report. Led by the Campaign to End Homelessness, the report is created through a cooperative effort amongst numerous government departments and agencies each year to assess the state of homelessness across Michigan.

The report outlines a combination of factors contributing to 2020's reduction in homelessness, including the implementation of eviction moratoriums, the Michigan State Housing Development Authority's (MSHDA) Eviction Diversion Program, which provided rental relief to renters across the state impacted financially by the pandemic, statewide stay-at-home orders, and people choosing to stay with family or friends rather than seeking professional support services.

"While we want to celebrate the fact homelessness decreased significantly in 2020, we are also mindful that we still have significant work to do to provide every Michigander with easy access to safe, affordable housing," said Eric Hufnagel, executive director for Michigan Coalition Against Homelessness.

Despite the overall decline in homelessness, however, the report shows high levels of racial disparity in the homeless population. Black residents made up 46% of the homeless population in 2020 but only account for 14% of Michigan's total population. Black and Hispanic workers were also more likely to be unemployed during 2020, and Black and Hispanic renters had higher levels of uncertainty about their ability to pay rent.

The need for affordable housing was exacerbated by the pandemic. Governor Whitmer is addressing the need for affordable housing through the MI New Economy Plan, with a goal of 75,000 new or rehabilitated housing units in five years across the state (FY22-FY26). This plan will expand access to affordable and attainable housing, create good-paying jobs and support the development of thriving communities.

"In 2020, amidst a once-in-a-century crisis, homelessness decreased by 19% because of an array of resources we provided to keep people in their homes including an eviction moratorium and rental relief," said Governor Gretchen Whitmer. "Now, with a $3.5 billion surplus and billions more in federal funds, we have a once-in-a-generation opportunity to tackle some of the big underlying challenges we face to help people thrive. That's why I've proposed the $2.1 billion MI New Economy plan to grow the middle class, support small businesses, and invest in our communities. Among other pieces, the plan would build up affordable, attainable housing, which as we know is crucial to helping families thrive. I look forward to building on the success of our programs last year and ushering in a new era of prosperity for our state."

The state launched its 2020-2022 Action Plan on Ending Homelessness last year to address issues like increasing access to affordable housing, the need for more prevention efforts to end homelessness, and the need to make the state's homeless response system more just and equitable. The four main strategies for accomplishing these goals include:

  • Increasing access to affordable and attainable housing for all Michiganders.
  • Using cross-sector collaboration to impact the other Social Determinants of Health that lead to housing insecurity.
  • Enhancing the homeless service delivery system to better serve those in need.
  • Increasing prevention and diversion efforts to mitigate the risk of becoming homeless.

"The findings from the Ending Homelessness in Michigan report continue to reinforce that there isn't a one-size-fits-all solution to these complex issues," said Kelly Rose, chief housing solutions officer for MSHDA and chair of the Michigan Interagency Council on Homelessness. "Truly bringing an end to homelessness will require collaborative efforts between government agencies, community leaders and other individuals and organizations invested in their communities to come up with creative, multifaceted solutions that address these needs head-on."

To download a full copy of the 2020 Ending Homelessness in Michigan annual report, click here.

About Campaign to End Homelessness
In Michigan, we believe that ending and preventing homelessness is achievable. Homeless episodes should be rare, brief and one-time in all Michigan communities. Michigan communities and state leadership are committed to deploying innovative solutions to ensure that any Michigan resident who may have to sleep on the streets or stay in a temporary emergency shelter does so only once and for the shortest time possible.