The 2019 Poverty Solutions Impact Report
Over the past year, our focus on partnerships and public engagement has proven to be a powerful model that has informed and contributed to positive change. We’ve undertaken dozens of new projects, established new partnerships and deepened existing ones, and found more ways to connect our work to policy and practice. We invite you to learn about the people, places, and projects making progress on poverty here in this third annual impact report.
Letters from our leadership
"When we launched Poverty Solutions in 2016, three guiding principles inspired the vision for the initiative. The principles, deeply rooted in the mission of the University of Michigan, were that we serve the public, that no challenge is too big or too complex, and that great universities aim to solve great problems."
"The mission of Poverty Solutions is to partner with communities and policymakers to find new ways to prevent and alleviate poverty. In confronting the challenges of poverty, we know scholars don’t have all the answers. Yet we have an important role to play. We can use data, evidence, and analysis to identify critical issues and evidence-based solutions to inform action. We are helping our partners bend the arc of change in the world."
Collective action for impact
Poverty Solutions partners with community leaders and policymakers to inform policy and practice at many levels. Here is a snapshot of our collective work at the national, regional, state, and local level this year.
Spotlight on Midwest, Rural PovertyMidwest Mobility from Poverty Network promotes public engagement with poverty research Understanding Communities of Deep Disadvantage
Improving Social Services in MichiganPoverty Solutions director named special counselor to Department of Health and Human Services
Community-driven research in DetroitDetroit Economic Mobility Fellows tackle city's pressing issues Connecting with community
Engaged Student Learning on Poverty SolutionsReal-world Perspectives on Poverty Solutions fall speaker series video Youth develop professional skills through Summer Youth Employment Program
INFORMING THE ARC OF SYSTEMS CHANGE
The following stories demonstrate how Poverty Solutions has worked with partners to inform concrete policy change in the areas of affordable housing, auto insurance, and homelessness. The arc of systems change starts with listening to community input to set a collective research agenda and then analyzing data and research help to identify policy gaps. Next, we identify possible solutions and propose evidence-based interventions. Finally, we support the implementation of new policies and practices and evaluate the outcome.
Driving Michigan’s auto insurance reform
In May, Michigan lawmakers reformed the state’s auto insurance policies. The legislation included many of the recommendations that came out of Poverty Solutions’ research, such as eliminating automatic unlimited personal protection coverage, imposing fee limits on medical care related to personal injury accidents, and restricting the use of non-driving factors like credit score and zip code to set auto insurance rates.Learn more
Finding property tax relief for low-income homeowners in Detroit
Speculative investors buying foreclosed properties in bulk fuels a cycle of evictions and foreclosures. For years, low-income homeowners were not properly notified of an available property tax exemption, and the city issued tax bills based on overinflated property assessments. Detroit’s housing crisis is multifaceted and complex. As city officials and numerous housing advocacy organizations work to address those housing challenges, research supported by Poverty Solutions provides crucial feedback on what’s effective and what’s not.Learn more
Good data leads to better services for Michigan’s homeless children
Every day, educators see children without a stable place to live struggling to keep up in class. However, there was little research to back their observations, and the official count of homeless children in Michigan — especially in Detroit — underestimated the scope of the issue. That’s where Jennifer Erb-Downward, senior research associate at Poverty Solutions who studies homelessness, saw an opportunity to make a difference.Learn more
Engaged Student Learning on Poverty Solutions
New Faculty Associate Director Focuses on Educational Programs
Kristin Seefeldt’s new role as associate faculty director expands Poverty Solutions’ efforts to engage more faculty and students in meaningful research opportunities.
Focus on Community Voices
“Across the projects, we’ve been really focused on balancing community voices and needs with intended policy outcomes. I think that’s a really special perspective on policy research, and I’m grateful for it.”
- Jasmine Simington, a doctoral student who has worked with Poverty Solutions since 2018.
Students Spotlight Home Repair Resources in Detroit
“It was great being able to interview community-based organizations to get their input on the home repair ecosystem, and at the same time be able to tell them we were compiling a home repair resource guide we would be able to share with them. It was a really good exchange.”
- Ryan Ruggiero (left), a master’s student who worked with undergraduate student Jorge Cazares (right) to create a Detroit Home Repair Resources Guide.