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Some progress seen in solving Michigan's homelessness problem, says state report

Kymberly Janisch
Flickr Creative Commons

Homelessness continues to be a big problem in Michigan. But the state is making progress, according to a report recently released by the Michigan Interagency Council on Homelessness.

The report says more than 97,000 Michigan residents experienced homelessness in 2014.

Kelly Rose of the Michigan State Housing Development Authority said that's a 5% increase from last year. But she attributes some of that increase to improved outreach and data collection.

More than half of Michigan's homeless population is African-American, and almost 40% are in family households with children.

"We've really been trying over the last year to target our resources towards those that are most vulnerable," said Rose. "We are seeing a lot of successes where we were able to house over 33,000 folks last year."

Rose credits an approach, called Housing First, that prioritizes housing – and then looks at what additional services people need. "Trying to manage your medications if you have a mental illness while you're homeless is very difficult," said Rose. "But if you're housed, your stability has greatly increased and then you're able to work on all those other issues to have a more productive life."

Rose said more federal money for homeless veterans has also helped.