A week to focus on the homeless in our region

Guest editorial

The Michigan State Housing Development Authority’s Ending Homelessness in Michigan 2015 Annual Report reflects that homelessness continues to be a problem. To provide the best services to end homelessness in Michigan, we need to fully understand the scope of the issue.

Every community and local homeless service systems – Local Planning Groups and Continuums of Care – enter data on the Michigan Statewide Homeless Management Information System, or HMIS. The system, however, does not capture all homeless persons, primarily those being served in domestic violence shelters. In 2015, “participating” agencies captured detailed information for 82,952 peoples, of which 57,386 were literally living in shelters and on the street and 25,566 were documented evictions with no place to go. This accounts for approximately 83 percent of the estimated total homeless population of 99,975.

For Dickinson and Iron counties, there were 433 unduplicated homeless in 2015. Of these 433, 246 were literally homeless, 10 were chronically homeless. These numbers included 142 children, ranging in age from 5 to 9 years old. The average age for males was 39 and for females, 35. Another 177 persons were at imminent risk of losing their housing. Of the 433, 85 had a disabling condition.

The Michigan Coalition Against Homelessness, or MCAH, and its partners have actively promoted Homeless Awareness Week throughout the state. Homeless Awareness Week in 2016 is Nov. 12 through 20.

The cities of Kingsford, Iron Mountain and Norway all have formally adopted a resolution proclaiming Nov. 12-20, 2016, as Homeless Awareness Week. The purpose of the proclamation is to educate the public about the many reasons people are homeless, including the shortage of affordable housing in Dickinson County for very low income residents, and to encourage support for homeless assistance service providers.

The proclamation also states these communities encourage all citizens to recognize that many people do not have housing and need support from its citizens, and private/public nonprofit service entities. It is expected the cities of Crystal Falls and Iron River will adopt similar resolutions.

Bonnie Pelto, Chairwoman

Dickinson/Iron County Local

Planning Group