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Number of homeless people in MI declines 9% in 2016

Roymundo VII
Homeless person

The number of homeless people in Michigan declined 9% last year.

That shows Michigan's approach is working, says Kelly Rose.  She's Chief Housing Solutions Officer for the Michigan State Housing Development Authority. 

Rose says agencies now focus resources on those most in need, rather than first come, first serve.  And the approach is to get someone into housing first, then help them deal with problems like substance abuse or mental health.

She says it's a lot easier to help someone take medications regularly, go see the doctor or attend an AA meeting, once they have a stable living situation.

Rose says the biggest obstacle remains finding landlords willing to give a homeless person or family a second chance. 

"Many time people have evictions on their record and other things on their rental history that don't make them an ideal tenant," she says. 

Rose says landlords that are having an issue with a previously homeless tenant can get help from the referring agency - so they're not on their own.

The biggest decline in 2016 was among the chronically homeless.  That number declined 40% in the past two years.

Homelessness among veterans also saw a big drop of 16%.

Rose says there was an increase in the number of homeless people over the age of 55.  That's likely due to the increase in aging baby boomers.

Tracy Samilton covers energy and transportation, including the auto industry and the business response to climate change for Michigan Public. She began her career at Michigan Public as an intern, where she was promptly “bitten by the radio bug,” and never recovered.
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