CHANGING THE NARRATIVE
There is no single experience of homelessness. For some, homelessness can be temporary and brief while for others it can last for months or years.
In Michigan, we see families lose their homes due to foreclosure or evictions, individuals who are unable to pay rent due to financial insecurity, seniors who don’t have enough savings to stay in their home, and women and youth who cannot safely stay with their families.
Each experience is different, but data shows us that there are alarming trends that we should be addressing in our communities. Did you know that…
- Over 61,000 individuals experienced literal homelessness in Michigan in 2019. These included families, single parents, children, veterans, grandparents, and unaccompanied youth.
- There is a large racial disparity among Michigan homelessness due to a history of catastrophic events from slavery to legal segregation. In 2019, 54% of the homeless population was African American, but African Americans make up only 14% of Michigan’s overall population.
- 7 is the average age for a child experiencing homelessness with their family in Michigan. In 2019, there were over 15,000 children experiencing homelessness in Michigan.
- Over 34,000 Michigan public school children experienced homelessness, lived doubled up, or were at risk of losing their homes during the 2018-2019 school year. Only 58% of homelessness high school students graduate in 4 years – 23% lower than the average graduation rate for Michigan.
- In Michigan, it is estimated that one quarter to one third youth (18-24) experiencing homelessness had an experience with the foster care system. Nationally, 40% of unaccompanied minors (under 18) experiencing homelessness identify as LGBTQ+.
- Seniors aged 55+ continue to see an increase in homelessness. Over 8,000 seniors experienced homelessness in 2019 with 76% of those having a disability.
- We are in an affordable housing crisis. The average monthly income for a family with children exiting homelessness is $667, but the average Fair Market Rent (FMR) in Michigan for a two-bedroom apartment is $906 per month.
We can all make a difference when it comes to helping Michigan’s homeless. We all know that we can volunteer and donate at our local shelter, but there is so much more that you can do.
We asked the members of our Michigan Homeless Speakers Bureau to share ways that you can help:
- Be respectful to individuals experiencing homelessness in your community. Treating all members of our communities with dignity and respect can go a long way in breaking down stereotypes and stigmas associated with homelessness. If you see someone needing help, look them in the eye, shake their hand, and treat them the way you would want to be treated if you were in their shoes.
- Volunteer and donate at your local agency and homeless service providers. While it’s great to give items or show up at the holidays, these agencies need support year round, and your financial contribution allows them to purchase necessary items or support clients in ways that your other donations can’t. Not sure what your local agencies are? Call 2-1-1 for a list of local providers.
- When you see someone on the street, give what you can. Money can help individuals do their laundry, buy food, print a resume, and so much more that will help them get back on their feet.
- Connect folks to services via 2-1-1. While you can’t call on someone’s behalf, you can make sure that friends and strangers alike are aware of this resource.
- Advocate at the local, state, and federal level. We invite you to participate in our annual Homelessness Advocacy Day to talk about state solutions, but there are so many ways that you can make a difference in your community. Work with local businesses to find ways to hire employees who are homeless or encourage practices that don’t criminalize those living on the street. Talk to your city and county elected officials about millages to support more housing and services. Find out your local service providers are advocating for, and join them.
- Stay informed about homelessness in Michigan and ways that you can be part of the solution. Join MCAH’s Legislative Action Committee to stay up to date on federal and state policy priorities, sign up for our newsletter, or follow the social media of amazing organizations such as the National Low Income Housing Coalition on federal initiatives.