Our Policy Priorities (2017-2018)
More than 600 service providers and agencies across Michigan serve the homeless. In today's world of complex regulations and requirements, decision-makers are often called on to enact policy that impact the homeless population, often with limited knowledge of our work and our clients. MCAH hopes to overcome that knowledge gap. Through our Legislative Action Committee, MCAH has identified five policy priorities which we believe provide real opportunities for education and policy change.
Individuals experiencing homelessness face unique obstacles accessing good, affordable housing. Communities may lack the number of necessary units, landlords can refuse to rent to these individuals and families, or the cost may be prohibitive. This can leave some with few housing options other than shelters or the street.
Having a state-issued photo ID can open a lot of doors for services when homeless. Unfortunately, many of these individuals do not have an ID or the documentation necessary to receive one. In a recent study conducted by MCAH, 92 agencies across the state reported assisting an average of 552 clients a month who were seeking an ID. Though there are programs and resources to aid in this process, they are not statewide or funded fully to meet the needs of this many clients.
Being homeless can make you a target. Individuals who are homeless are often victims of physical violence, subject to city ordinances that make asking for money or sleeping in public illegal, and face additional scrutiny from the police and criminal justice system. Often, this vulnerable population doesn’t receive the protection necessary to keep them safe while they seek new housing opportunities.
Federal and state monies go a long way towards helping the agencies who serve homeless individuals. But this funding often falls short of providing the beds, extensive services, medical care and more that are required to truly meet needs. Protecting existing funding resources and providing new funding is necessary to make the long-term and permanent solutions we need to end homelessness in our state.
Individuals experiencing homelessness disproportionately suffer from mental illness and physical disability. All too often, jail or the emergency room are the best option for receiving medical care. Michigan expanded its Medicaid program in 2013, and between then and 2015 we saw a 51% increase in enrollment just among those who reported being homeless. Federal attempts to repeal the Affordable Care Act or cut funding for health services would cause unnecessary hardships for these individuals, and many more.