MCAH is pleased to announce our 2019-2020 Policy Priorities to guide our state level advocacy.

Everyone should have a place to call home, but Michigan individuals and families experiencing homelessness struggle to find safe, quality homes in our communities. If we are to truly build the strong and vibrant communities where we are all proud to live, then we need to bring in solutions and create housing policies that match housing costs to families’ incomes.

Over the past year, MCAH has been asking our members, advocates, and community leaders, “What do you need to solve the issues of homelessness in your community?” Answers varied based on local need, encompassing new development, changes to zoning, flexibility in federal and state regulations, and more. But the answer that surfaced most often was “We need more tools to engage with landlords and property managers to bring the cost of housing down to what our community needs.”

A large number of Michiganders are renters – over 1,128,000 households in fact. And the majority (66%) of folks exiting homelessness move into rental homes. But as Michigan housing costs continue to spike, wages and incomes are simply not keeping pace. Too many families struggle to find and then afford to rent safe homes – places where we all would feel comfortable raising our children – in so many of our Michigan communities. And for individuals with additional barriers, such as receiving a housing voucher, having a history of evictions or low credit, or returning to the community after incarceration, this challenge can be nearly insurmountable.

We have a collective responsibility to build strong communities for all Michiganders. This means creating places to live where everyone can thrive and access quality education, good jobs, and community connections. Improving access to good rental homes is one step towards solving this puzzle.

Over the next two years, MCAH will dedicate our policy work towards finding state solutions to both increase access and decrease barriers to safe, affordable rental units for individuals experiencing homelessness or at risk of losing their home. Our policy priorities for the next Michigan legislative session include:

  1. Increasing Access to Affordable Rental Units
    • Creating new tools for landlord and property manager engagement:
      • Tax incentives for landlords and property managers to increase rental opportunities
      • Damages or risk mitigation fund for landlords and property managers
  2. Decreasing Barriers to Affordable Rental Units
    • Creating protections for low-income tenants:
      • Eviction expungement
      • Legal protections against housing discrimination, such as source of income discrimination
  3. Strengthening Funding for Homeless Services and Affordable Housing Opportunities
    • Increasing funding within state department for related programs that help individuals access or maintain housing

We look forward to working with our new Governor, legislators, state partners, and community advocates to advance policy solutions to improve the way we address housing in our state.

And we invite you to join us. Creating better housing policy is not an issue that will be resolved solely by lawmakers in Lansing. Strong voices such as yours will make the difference in your community. In 2019, will you become a member of MCAH and advocate for housing solutions that create stronger communities?

 

For more information about our policy priorities and how you can become involved, contact Laurel Burchfield at lburchfield@mihomeless.org.

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