Advocate

2017-2018 POLICY PRIORITIES

Every two years MCAH evaluates our policy priorities and updates them to match feedback from our members and advocates.  For the 2017-2018 legislative session we advocated for increased access to affordable housing, state IDs and vital documents, the decriminalization of homelessness, and improved funding for homelessness services.

We continue to support these ideas as the opportunity arises.

Affordable Housing

Our country is in the middle of an affordable housing crisis. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) defines Affordable Housing as a unit that a household can obtain for 30% or less of its gross income. The National Low Income Housing Coalition (NLIHC) reports annually in the Out Of Reach Report the number of households that are ‘cost burdened,’ or paying more than 30% of their income on housing. In 2018, NLIHC found that in no county in Michigan can a worker earning minimum wage afford a 2 bedroom unit at Fair Market Rent without being cost burdened.

Individuals experiencing homelessness face unique obstacles accessing safe, affordable housing. Communities may lack the number of necessary units, landlords can refuse to rent to low-income individuals and families, or the cost may be prohibitive. This can leave some with few housing options other than shelters or the street.

At MCAH, we advocate for state policy solutions that expand access to affordable housing and increase available units to low- and very low-income households.

Our 2017-2018 Michigan Legislative Session Policy Asks

Allow communities to offer voluntary incentives for affordable housing
Become a Champion for affordable housing
Participate in educational opportunities to learn about affordable housing needs and solutions across Michigan

State IDs and Vital Docs

Having a state-issued photo ID can open a lot of doors for services when homeless. Unfortunately, many of these individuals do not have an ID or the documentation necessary to receive one. In a recent study conducted by MCAH, 92 agencies across the state reported assisting an average of 552 clients a month who were seeking an ID. Though there are programs and resources to aid in this process, they are not statewide or funded fully to meet the needs of this many clients.

 At MCAH, we advocate for state policy solutions that break down barriers for those trying to access vital documents and state IDs.

Michigan Secretary of State Fee Waiver Program

In 2018, the Michigan legislature passed SB404, which extended the Free ID for Me Program to include fee waivers for individuals experiencing homelessness. MCAH has led efforts to create this program at the Michigan Secretary of State and to educate service providers in how to successfully apply for the waiver on behalf of their clients. Program materials can be found below.

 

Our 2017-2018 Michigan Legislative Session Policy Asks

Support the extension of the Free ID for me Program to include people experiencing homelessness

Support SB 404 – PASSED!

Encourage MI SoS to expand the homeless ID pilot program, currently in 5 counties, to cover the entire state
Require County Clerks to charge the same fee for birth records whether they are obtained locally or from the MDHHS central office

Support HBs 5418 & 5584

Encourage County Clerks offices across the state to adopt fee waivers for vital documents for people experiencing

Decriminalizing Homelessness

Being homeless is not a crime. Yet all too often, homeless individuals face discrimination, unnecessary scrutiny, or even violent attacks. Communities often target homeless individuals through aggressive policies or passive practices that create additional barriers for individuals and families working to get back on their feet. Many Michigan communities, in partner with shelters and agencies, have found creative solutions for helping homeless individuals, but they lack the support and resources necessary to best assist this vulnerable population. Additionally, formerly incarcerated individuals experience harsh barriers to accessing housing and services, making their re-entry into society difficult, if not impossible.

At MCAH, we advocate for state policy solutions to create a safer environment for individuals experiencing homelessness and create paths for formerly incarcerated individuals to access housing

Our 2017-2018 Michigan Legislative Session Policy Asks

Support efforts to increase access to Crisis Intervention Training across the state
Allow for the expungement of multiple crimes arising out of the same criminal transaction

Support HB 4798

Funding Homelessness Services

Federal and state monies go a long way towards helping the agencies who serve homeless individuals. But this funding often falls short of providing the beds, extensive services, medical care and more that are required to truly meet needs. Protecting existing funding resources and providing new funding is necessary to make the long-term and permanent solutions we need to end homelessness in our state.

 At MCAH, we participate in the annual state budget process and advocate for increased funding for homeless service providers and programs.

Our 2017-2018 Michigan Legislative Session Policy Asks

Support increase in Emergency Shelter Program per diem rates

$2 per diem increase passed in supplemental appropriations!

Support the Department of Education increase of $150 million for students who are identified as 'at-risk,' including students experiencing homelessness