2017-12-10 / Insight

There is local help for homelessness

Even with improved economy homelessness impacts thousands
BY JEFF HOGAN
810-452-2640 • jhogan@mihomepaper.com

LAPEER COUNTY — The U.S. Dept. of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) released a report Wednesday on homelessness in America in 2017. According to the latest estimate, homelessness went down 2.9-percent last year in Michigan and slighty more than 30 percent since 2010. The report said statewide 9,051 people are estimated to be homeless, a decrease from 2016 and a decrease of 4,007 persons or a 30.7-percent percent reduction since 2010.

The number of families with children experiencing homelessness in 2017 (3,423), declined 2.6 percent (97) since 2016 and declined by nearly 40 percent (2,270) since 2010.

Most homeless persons, 8,028, (88.7 percent) in Michigan were located in emergency shelters or transitional housing programs while total 1,023 persons, (12.7 percent) were unsheltered.

Decrease or not, and even with an improving economy the numbers are sobering.

The number of unaccompanied homeless youth and children in 2017 in Michigan is estimated to be around 608. This year, HUD and local communities launched a more intense effort to more accurately account for this important, difficult to count population.

In Lapeer County, it’s difficult to cite a hard number how many people may be homeless because there is no single matrix to monitor or identify who and where homeless people may be at any given time.

Yet judging by turnout last month of Project Homeless Connect held at the Lapeer Center that saw more than 200 hundred people visit the program, there are dozens of individuals and families who struggle to find safe, warm housing every day and night in our community.

National Homeless Persons’ Memorial Day takes place each year on the longest night of the year, Dec. 21. This day remembers those who die as the result of being homeless. With the coldest temperatures of the season upon us, and even the chance of the first measurable snow this weekend, we didn’t want to wait any longer to discuss homelessness in Lapeer County and the risk that people’s lives may be in jeopardy because of the cold weather and arrival of winter next week.

While homelessness, or the risk of becoming homeless, is a yeararound problem the onset of cold weather tends to heighten the concern for those who struggle to find a place to sleep, keep warm and maybe get a meal each night.

Fortunately there is help available in Lapeer County for individuals and families who find themselves in desperate straits.

In today’s INSIGHT The County Press spotlights several organizations that work every day to bring relief to the homeless, or near-homeless, population in our community.

Statewide

Almost 2,700 Michigan homeless residents last year found stable housing in 2016, leading to a 9 percent drop in the state’s population, the Michigan State Housing Development Authority recently reported.

Since 2015, homelessness dropped 9 percent to 66,483 as 2,680 more people found a place to live between 2015 and 2016.

Statewide, the number of homeless veterans dropped 16 percent, the report said. The number of homeless people dying while on the streets also dropped from 156 in 2015 to 133 in 2016, the report said.

In total, 22,211 people found permanent housing after living on the streets or in shelters and the majority of the homeless population had health insurance in 2016, the report said. Most were on Medicaid, the health program for low-income earners.

The Michigan Dept. of Health and Human Services pitches in $32 million every year to fight homelessness.

— Jeff Hogan

Return to top

Copyright © 2009-2018 The County Press, All Rights Reserved

Click here for the E-Edition
2017-12-10 digital edition

Unrestricted access available to web site subscribers

Subscribers to the County Press newspaper can now purchase the complete online and E-Edition of the paper for as little as $5 for three months. If you want a six month subscription to the online edition it is $10 and a full year can be purchased for $20.

Non-subscribers can sign up for the online version for $15 for three months, $30 for six months and $60 for an annual subscription.