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2019 Report

People planning and speaking

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.

External funding
Since Poverty Solutions launched for projects across U-M, impacting communities across the state and nation
Engaged with
External partners
Partnered with
of U-M's schools and colleges
Plus numerous other U-M institutions and centers
Supported across three U-M campuses in 2019

Letters from our leadership

Collective action for impact


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.

cars driving on road

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.

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front view of three houses

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.

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Close up of graphs and numbers

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.

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Engaged Student Learning on Poverty Solutions

enrolled in Real-World Perspectives on Poverty Solutions course
Students from 8 schools and colleges
Currently enrolled in certificate program
Kristen Seefeldt

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.

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Jasmine Simington

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.

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Ryan Ruggiero and Jorge Cazares

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.

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