Michigan Finding ways to Alleviate Housing Crisis Issue

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For decades, Michigan has had a continuous issue with housing and homelessness; something that the state has continuously been looking into. While the issue is ongoing, the state has taken many measures to alleviate the problem for families in need.

According to the State of Michigan Housing Data Portal, out of all the homes on the market in 2021, only 1.9% of homes were vacant and available to rent or for sale.

The National Low Income Housing Coalition estimates that in Michigan alone, there is a 190,000 unit shortage of rental homes that are affordable and available for low income renters.

Published in June of 2022, The State of Michigan released Michigan’s Statewide Housing Plan, a first for Michigan, where it outlines past and present issues that the state is having with housing. Not only does it give history to the problem, it provides numerous ways in which Michigan will work to solve it.

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer set a goal to create or preserve at least 75,000 housing units across Michigan. While lofty, this goal would greatly boost the amount of safe and affordable housing available for families in need.

“If we get it done, we can help those in need of homes get the dignity they deserve… I encourage communities, state agencies, local governments, developers, nonprofits, and philanthropic organizations to implement this plan,” Whitmer said.

SuAlyn Holbrook has been the Director of Ingham County’s MDHHS branch since 2011. The housing issues in Ingham don’t stem too far from the issues that the majority of Michigan is experiencing.

“There’s not enough public housing in Ingham…and I would also say there’s not enough shelters for families,” Holbrook said. “We need more of public housing to help families, specifically low income families.”

Throughout her 12 years of service as director, she has seen what it has meant to be a community, and how much that affects the issue at hand.

“It’s very important to work collaboratively because it’s not a simple issue, and so working collaboratively helps families to not fall through the gap,” she said. “Ingham County, I think, is a beautiful example of collaboration.”

Attending community events as well as working with housing agencies like the Housing Assessment and Resource Agency (HARA), which takes families one on one and helps them assess what type of housing they can afford, are what Holbrook says helps align them to their department’s mission to not only serve the community, but be in it as well.

“It’s just an honor to be able to work with the community and community partners to serve this population,” Holbrook said.

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