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ANN ARBOR – Entrepreneurs, self-employed people, owners of formal or informal small businesses, gig workers, and people with side hustles who have low incomes can apply Oct. 2-13 to receive monthly payments from Guaranteed Income to Grow Ann Arbor (GIG A2).
After the application window closes, 100 eligible applicants will be randomly selected to receive payments of $528 per month for two years, starting early in 2024. Recipients can use the money however they want – no strings attached. They will be asked to complete three surveys over the course of the two-year pilot, answering questions about how they use the guaranteed income money; other experiences such as affording food, housing, and child care; and their health and well-being.
Another 100 eligible applicants will be randomly selected to participate in a research study of the guaranteed income program, but they will not receive the cash payments. They will be paid as a token of appreciation for taking similar surveys as the participants who receive the payments.
The City of Ann Arbor selected Poverty Solutions at the University of Michigan to manage the guaranteed income pilot and conduct a research study to measure its impact.
“This guaranteed income pilot is about celebrating residents who do much to strengthen our community but are still struggling to make ends meet. The funded and unfunded participants are both vital to the success of the research study, which will allow other communities across the country to learn from Ann Arbor’s approach to guaranteed income,” said Kristin Seefeldt, an associate professor of social work and public policy at U-M and associate director of Poverty Solutions, who is the lead researcher for the guaranteed income pilot.
To be eligible for the monthly payments, applicants must:
- Live in the City of Ann Arbor and be at least 18 years old.
- Have an income at or below 225% of the federal poverty line. People who currently receive or are eligible for any type of public assistance (SNAP, TANF, Section 8, Pell Grants) likely qualify.
- Be an entrepreneur, owner of a formal or informal small business, independent contractor, provide paid services informally, or a gig worker. Many different activities meet this criteria, from doing hair, to shoveling snow, to selling art and performing.
More details on eligibility and how the program works are available on the Guaranteed Income to Grow Ann Arbor website, www.giga2.org. The application will be available online, and there will be in-person opportunities in the coming weeks to learn more about the pilot and to receive assistance completing the application.
In 2022, Ann Arbor City Council allocated $1.6 million of the city’s federal American Rescue Plan Act funds to a basic income pilot. After reviewing proposals for how the pilot program could be structured and evaluated, city staff recommended partnering with U-M Poverty Solutions, and the city council signed off on the proposal in June. In August, U-M’s Institutional Review Board approved the design of the study.
The pilot is supported by several community partners, including Friends in Deed, Ann Arbor Area Community Foundation, Ann Arbor District Library, Express Your Yes Foundation, Groundcover News, and Washtenaw Community College’s Entrepreneurship Center.
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DETROIT– As Detroit children prepare to return to school, widespread and chronic housing instability among city residents poses a threat to students’ ability to perform well academically.
New research from the University of Michigan’s Poverty Solutions and Wayne State University’s Detroit Partnership for Education Equity & Research (PEER) analyzed survey data with responses from more than 1,400 Detroit parents plus in-depth interviews with 20 parents identified as homeless or housing unstable. A policy brief summarizes themes from the parents’ experiences and offers policy recommendations that would promote housing stability and help ensure Detroit children have an equitable opportunity to learn.
“Having a stable place to live is the foundation of academic success and many dimensions of well-being. Unfortunately, many Detroit parents describe a rental environment where short-term leases, poor housing conditions, and few legal protections mean they face a near-constant threat of displacement. This is a problem that schools cannot solve alone,” said Jennifer Erb-Downward, director of housing programs and policy initiatives at U-M Poverty Solutions and co-author of the policy brief.
Detroit has one of the highest rates of childhood housing instability in the country, and 11% to 16% of school-aged children experience homelessness. While federal law guarantees students experiencing homelessness the right to an education, schools do not always identify when students lack stable housing, and families are not always aware of their rights. As a result, many students without a stable place to live do not get the extra support and resources they need to participate fully in school. In the 2021-22 school year, 90% of Detroit Public Schools Community District students identified as experiencing homelessness were chronically absent from school.
“It was making it where it was hard for me to get my kids to school, and I almost lost my job because we didn’t have a stable home,” said one parent interviewed by the researchers. “It was hard because at the hours I would have to be at work, they would have to be at school, so sometimes they would have to miss school and go to work with me.”
The researchers found displacement is a significant financial drain on parents with school-aged children in Detroit. In the wake of a forced move, families need to replace lost possessions and pay repeatedly for application fees and security deposits at new rentals. This extends periods of homelessness for Detroit’s children and reduces family resources available to pay for school necessities – such as gas or car repairs needed to reliably attend school.
Parents also described long-lasting repercussions that continue years after housing loss first occurs. Because eviction filings are open records, parents report that rental screening practices exclude them from the majority of stable, quality rental units, even when they meet income requirements and can pay the security deposit.
“City government and the local court system can implement changes that would increase housing stability for Detroit’s children. We have opportunities to turn the tide of chronic housing instability in Detroit,” said Sarah Winchell Lenhoff, director of Detroit PEER, associate professor of educational leadership and policy studies at Wayne State, and co-author of the policy brief.
One way to stabilize housing for families with children is to ban evictions during the school year. The researchers pointed to the city of Seattle as an example of implementing that type of targeted eviction moratorium.
All of the parents interviewed said the lack of quality affordable housing is a barrier to housing stability. To address this, the researchers recommend the city enforce its existing rental code and expand Detroit’s affordable housing stock. Plus, the 36th District Court should refuse eviction filings for rental properties that are not up to code. Nine in 10 pandemic-era evictions in Detroit occurred at properties without a Certificate of Compliance (CoC), despite Detroit’s rental code requiring properties to be inspected and receive a CoC prior to rental.
The researchers offered the following additional policy recommendations to promote housing stability in Detroit:
- Implement rental application fee limits and require application fee refunds to tenants not selected for housing, in order to prevent predatory landlords from exploiting the scarcity and urgency of the rental market
- Ensure tenants have access to remote eviction proceedings to reduce the number of default judgments against Detroit tenants who do not attend in-person hearings
- Pass just cause and right to renew legislation, which would require that landlords justify evictions and lease non-renewals with a valid legal cause
Attendees discuss project ideas at the Detroit Financial Well-Being Innovation Challenge showcase held April 28, 2023, at Durfee Innovation Society in Detroit. (Photo by Creative Focus Productions)
Release courtesy of United Way for Southeastern Michigan
DETROIT — United Way for Southeastern Michigan, in collaboration with Poverty Solutions at the University of Michigan, has announced the next stage of the Detroit Financial Well-Being Innovation Challenge. Out of an initial pool of over 30 entries, six unique projects have advanced to the Pilot Stage.
Over the 12-month implementation period, six Pilot Stage grantees will receive up to $200,000 and ongoing technical support. Here are the projects moving forward from the Planning Stage into the Pilot Stage:
- Bikes4Employees: Led by the Detroit Greenways Coalition, this project aims to provide high-quality bicycles to Detroiters lacking reliable transportation, reducing expenses and improving employment sustainability while also promoting health benefits and reducing stress.
- Community Investment Trusts: Under the leadership of Doing Development Differently in Metro Detroit (D4), this initiative seeks to pilot the use of Community Investment Trusts (CITs) to facilitate community ownership of real estate and build wealth in low-income communities.
- Credit Escalator: Led by GreenPath Financial Wellness, the Credit Escalator project plans to change banking systems for communities of color in Detroit. The service combines financial coaching with a personal loan, aiming to improve credit scores as the loan is repaid.
- East Chadsey Condon Alliance (ECCA): Led by the Southwest Economic Solutions Corporation, the ECCA’s Diversified Community Investment Fund (DCIF) offers all Detroiters a chance to invest in and participate in community development projects.
- Family Mobility Savings Program: Under the stewardship of Communities First (CFI), this program will jumpstart emergency savings, helping Detroiters meet their immediate needs while setting the foundation for their financial future.
- Home Repair Clearinghouse: Another initiative by Doing Development Differently in Metro Detroit (D4), this project aims to serve as a hub connecting low-income homeowners with contractors, streamlining the home repair process and advocating for homeowners.
These six projects were chosen from among 17 projects participating in the Planning Stage, which ran from Aug. 1, 2022, through March 31, 2023. During the Planning Stage, grantees worked to test assumptions critical to the success of their new ideas, develop partnerships, and create the processes and materials necessary to launch a functioning pilot. The six projects advanced to the Pilot Stage demonstrated the strongest readiness to implement and alignment to the goals of the challenge. They will kick off their pilot operations this fall. To assist them throughout the implementation process, United Way will also provide:
- Program evaluation services from University of Michigan’s Poverty Solutions.
- Tailored coaching and consultation services to enhance capacities in pilot implementation, strategic planning, marketing and communications, qualitative data collection, and more.
- Regular opportunities to exchange ideas, reflect on lessons learned from implementation, and share the impact of their work.
United Way will continue to maintain transparent communication with the grantees in the Pilot Stage, the third and penultimate stage of the innovation challenge, to identify any support needs and requests for additional technical assistance. They will also help grantees measure the efficiency and impact of the programs.
Megan Thibos, director of economic mobility at United Way for Southeastern Michigan, highlights the underlying rationale for the challenge: “Detroit residents face unjust systemic barriers to financial stability. This includes high living costs, unpredictable low incomes, and inaccessible credit. These grants aim to support the development of innovative, sustainable solutions to enhance financial opportunities for Detroiters.”
The Financial Well-Being Innovation Challenge originated from the 2020 University of Michigan Poverty Solutions report, The Financial Well-Being of Detroiters: What Do We Know? The findings revealed that a mix of low and volatile incomes and disproportionately high costs make it difficult for Detroiters to effectively manage their finances. The Challenge looks to address these systemic issues with innovative ideas that can completely change opportunities for Detroit families.
Leonymae Aumentado, senior project manager at Poverty Solutions, commended the project teams on their big ideas.
“We are thrilled to continue supporting these dedicated organizations in piloting their new and game-changing programs, thoughtfully designed to improve the financial well-being of Detroiters. The Challenge itself is innovative in its approach of providing funding to build and test never-before-done program models as well as providing dedicated research and evaluation support to ensure the project teams can both do the work and rigorously measure the impact of their work,” Aumentado said.
The Detroit Financial Well-being Innovation Challenge will continue through 2026. Scale Stage grants, anticipated to be awarded in late 2024, will fund selected projects up to $1 million based on the results of the Pilot Stage.
The Challenge is made possible through funding from JPMorgan Chase, Comerica Bank, General Motors, and United Way for Southeastern Michigan.
For more details about the Detroit Financial Well-Being Innovation Challenge, visit: UnitedWaySEM.org/FWBIC. To learn more about the work of United Way for Southeastern Michigan or to contribute, visit: UnitedWaySEM.org.
About United Way for Southeastern Michigan
United Way for Southeastern Michigan, a member of the United Way Worldwide network and an independently governed 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, works to help households across Wayne, Oakland, Macomb, and Washtenaw counties become stable and ensure children have the support they need to thrive. For more than 100 years, United Way has been a leader in creating positive, measurable, and sustainable change in communities throughout southeast Michigan. United Way works in partnership with donors, agencies, corporate and municipal partners to help families meet their basic needs of housing, food, health care and family finances, and ensure children start school ready to learn and graduate ready for life. To give, advocate, volunteer or learn more, visit UnitedWaySEM.org.
About University of Michigan’s Poverty Solutions
Poverty Solutions is a university-wide initiative at the University of Michigan that partners with communities and policymakers to find new ways to prevent and alleviate poverty through action-based research.
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ANN ARBOR—In the wake of racial justice movements across the country, the state of Michigan and some of its communities have been implementing new public safety and criminal justice policies.
The perspective of Michigan’s local government, public safety and prosecutorial officials on factors associated with openness to, and adoption of, racial justice and other public safety policies, as well as insights on police-community relations in local communities, will be the focus of a new two-year study being by the University of Michigan’s Center for Local, State, and Urban Policy (CLOSUP) and Poverty Solutions.
The effort, funded by a grant from the Joyce Foundation, will gather those perspectives through a set of surveys of local government leaders, chiefs of police and sheriffs, and prosecuting attorneys across Michigan. The multipronged project will be based on CLOSUP’s long-standing Michigan Public Policy Survey of local government leaders, which has been conducted since 2009 and comprises the leaders of 1,856 counties, cities, townships and villages across the state.
“Real change will require support from front line local officials and other community-level actors,” said Tom Ivacko, CLOSUP executive director. “How much and where is the political will to embrace or enact change? What barriers to change exist in which kinds of communities? These are the questions we will be probing.
“We look forward to addressing issues like police-community relations, inequitable policing and criminal justice practices, and exploring the potential for cooperation on reform among various local political actors
The project’s data collection will consist of three parallel surveys: one for all the top elected and appointed local government leaders; one for top public safety officers in local law enforcement agencies; and another of county prosecutors. The Michigan Public Policy Survey (MPSS) previously asked about local policing in its 2015 survey wave.
“The Joyce Foundation is supporting this effort because we believe it will surface critical answers to important questions about the future of public safety in Michigan and help shape a way forward for advocates, community groups, researchers and policymakers to address the public safety challenges ahead,” said Quintin Williams, program officer for Gun Violence Prevention and Justice Reform at the Joyce Foundation.
Mara Ostfeld, a CLOSUP faculty affiliate and research director of the Center for Racial Justice, said the project will provide critical insights into the political opportunities and challenges that different reforms may face, and allow for a more informed strategy to building stronger police-community relations.
“While the data gathered are specific to Michigan, the lessons will be valuable across the region and the U.S., as Michigan serves as a national microcosm with a wide range of communities: wealthy and low-income, urban and rural, racially homogeneous and heterogeneous, and more,” she said.
While the project will gather opinions and perspectives of key actors along the public safety and criminal justice continuum, it seeks engagement with stakeholders of all kinds.
“We will consult widely with community and state-level reform advocates, state and local officials, academic researchers, and others, during the planning phases to ensure the survey designs are based on broad and diverse input,” said Debra Horner, MPPS senior program manager. “We believe the insights provided by local leaders and public safety officials will help sharpen understanding of what kinds of reform may be possible in what community contexts.”
The outputs of the two-year effort will be targeted to inform a wide range of stakeholders, including the general public and the media, but especially Michigan local government leaders themselves, including the survey respondents, state and federal policymakers, leaders of public safety agencies, county prosecutors, nonprofit advocacy organizations, students, researchers and others interested in criminal justice and related issues.
The project will produce a series of rich datasets, analyses, reports, infographics, web-based data resources, social media outreach, mass media coverage, and presentations to inform key stakeholders about current issues in local policing and criminal justice and opportunities for reform. It will also provide robust survey questionnaires for future use in assessing change over time.
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A new University of Michigan study finds Chicago residents are receptive to the idea of a city-run public bank, but they have questions about how the bank would operate and what measures would ensure public banking benefits for their communities.
A public bank is owned by a state, city or other public actors. By replacing private shareholder profit with public investment, public banks have the potential to more equitably provide loans and other financial products to groups that are underserved by private financial institutions. Public banks also can have more accountability to the local community and invest in resources that residents need, such as grocery stores, affordable housing and reliable public transportation, while divesting from harmful fossil fuels and other environmental pollutants.
Public banking has been a topic of interest in Chicago in recent years, including in the city’s 2023 mayoral election. A new policy brief by Terri Friedline and Sofia Da Silva of U-M and Ameya Pawar, senior adviser to the Economic Security Project, summarizes views on public banking of 35 Chicago residents interviewed in spring 2023.
This builds on their previous research that analyzed complaints about the private banking industry that Chicago residents submitted to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and considered public banking as a potential mitigating response to problems with bank accounts, lending and credit.
“The residents we interviewed were hopeful about the potential for public banking to address needs in their communities,” said Friedline, U-M associate professor of social work. “As experts of their experiences and the needs in their communities, residents were very specific about how they thought a public bank could help.”
Residents shared examples of the types of investments they’d like to see a public bank make, including grocery stores and healthy food options, more opportunities for young people, affordable housing and cleaning up environmental hazards. One woman described stale produce in her local grocery, “I would love to take hold of someone’s hand and walk ’em through our store. … There’s no green lettuce. It’s all yellow. … I know that sounds mundane, but it’s not.”
The researchers focused on interviewing residents of majority-Black neighborhoods that have received comparably limited investments from the city. They found many residents were not familiar with public banking, but they were interested in learning more about the concept.
Popular education about public banking could help raise awareness of the idea and analyze the power held by existing financial institutions, the researchers said. They also recommended connecting public banking to community needs.
“Efforts to establish a public bank can consider how a city-owned bank could address residents’ most pressing community needs, which may be more expansive than the priorities identified by politicians,” said Pawar, who proposed establishing a city-owned bank to focus on affordable housing and economic development as part of his 2019 campaign for city treasurer.
The study found residents distrust local politicians to use a public bank to benefit marginalized communities. One woman brought up the Tax Increment Financing program, a funding tool used by the city to steer public and private monies into communities, which critics say is not transparent and has invested heavily in Chicago’s whitest and wealthiest neighborhoods.
Other residents pointed to the Community Commission for Public Safety and Accountability intended to provide civilian oversight of the police force. Chicago voters elect people to the commission, and several candidates backed by the police union were elected.
“I think that just needs to be thought about with the structure,” said a man who works at a nonprofit organization that serves Chicago’s South Side neighborhoods. “We just went through this process for the very first time to elect some people who will eventually work to oversee the police from a civilian capacity. The Fraternal Order of Police ran a lot of people for elections and got some of them into those slots. I don’t think that was the intent for what people originally wanted to have happen.”
The researchers recommended public banking advocates be prepared to address concerns about a public bank forthrightly and transparently, taking into account residents’ attitudes about local government.
Detroit Youth Homelessness Demonstration Program (YHDP) Staff and Youth Action Board members at Ruth Ellis Clairmount Center for Youth Homelessness Demonstration Program Celebration Luncheon on June 9, 2023. (Photos by Nina Williams)
By Poverty Solutions Youth Communications Fellow Nina Williams
On June 9, the Youth Homelessness Demonstration Program (YHDP) Celebration Luncheon was held at the Ruth Ellis Clairmount Center in Detroit. The celebration was hosted to share an update on how $5.7 million granted to the City of Detroit for youth experiencing housing instabilities has been allocated so far. On this day, five members of the Detroit Phoenix Center Youth Action Board shared their stories of what it was like to experience housing instabilities at a young age and how they’ve overcome their challenges to now become the young leaders for others who have gone through similar situations.
Youth homelessness in Detroit
Between 11-16% of Detroit K-12 students faced homelessness or housing instability in 2021-22, according to a new study from Wayne State University College of Education’s Detroit Partnership for Education Equity & Research (Detroit PEER) in partnership with University of Michigan’s Poverty Solutions.
In July of 2021, Detroit Continuum of Care applied for the federal Youth Homelessness Demonstration Program (YHDP) grant to support a coordinated community approach to preventing and ending youth homelessness. In September 2021, Detroit was selected to receive $5.7 million, which led the community into a coordinated planning process. The mission and vision of youth and young adults centers around collective efforts toward building an equitable and inclusive community where youth and young adults of all backgrounds (LGBTQ+ and BIPOC, parenting, etc) have a support system during housing instability crises. To achieve this goal, the program is now focusing on improving permanent housing systems, creating access to rapid rehousing assistance for youth, and building responsive mental health services in Detroit. The luncheon celebrated the hard work of the board members to turn their vision into a reality.
The Detroit Phoenix Center is a nonprofit organization that responds to the needs of underserved and street-connected youth in Detroit. In this organization, the Youth Action Board (YAB) helps instill leadership and direction into programs being implemented at the Detroit Phoenix Center and in the community of Detroit. At this celebration, Azaria Terrell, Armani Arnold, Amber Mattews, Ajanae Robinson, and Keyanna Evans told their stories of what it means to be a leader for others at the Detroit Phoenix Center. These youth supported the grant funding process from the very beginning and will continue to support the progress of instilling youth-led projects into the city of Detroit.
A central part of the YHDP grant is that it is youth-led and centers youth experience and expertise. During this luncheon, each of the youth were allowed time to share their experiences with one another. This panel allowed for bonds to be shaped among adults and youth going through housing instabilities, clarity in understanding how adults can help youth, and hearing the voices of youth who have prevailed to become leaders of those who have gone through similar experiences.
While many would believe that most of the actions being created through the process was done by adults, it was actually youth who have been involved in every step of the way. Each of these youth have spoken their mind, incorporated their ideas and told the city of Detroit what they can do to better provide for youth going through housing insecurities.
Learning from youth leaders
To support youth in their vision for ending homelessness, U-M’s Poverty Solutions has been collaborating with the Detroit Phoenix Center to support youth-led communications projects focused on the change youth want to see in their communities. As a part of this ongoing work, Poverty Solutions’ Youth Communications Fellow Nina Williams asked the Youth Advisory Board members about their thoughts on youth homelessness and their roles in leadership. The fellowship, which is supported by the McGregor Fund, aims to amplify youth voices in conversations about homelessness in Detroit.
Williams: What has being a part of the decision making process been like for you in terms of helping make decisions for future generations who may be going through housing instabilities?
Ajanae Robinson: For me, this process has been nothing short of amazing, honestly, for the past two years. We spent (time) doing a lot of strategic planning, with key decision making, with the budget that we were granted from the city of Detroit, $6 million. We’ve been able to use this time to make key decisions and also pick our sub recipients who will be given the money from the budget. So we’ve been doing a bit of the administrative task and the background work of formulating what the project will look like, what it will tell, and how it is to service each nonprofit organization.
Williams: What is it like being a youth leader in your sector and do you have any advice for future leaders?
Azaria Terrell: Being a youth leader, it’s very amazing cause you just continue to just learn more about yourself, more about the world, your community. Being a youth leader is even better cause you get to watch these youth grow into their leadership positions. Something I would say to incoming youth leaders (is) … never be afraid to take time for yourself, never. Your mental health is the most important. And then, just be prepared and excited for the change that you’re gonna make in your community and the change you’re gonna see in yourself.
Williams: What are some misconceptions about youth homelessness? What do you wish people knew?
Amber Mathews: We are not lazy. We do not all have behavior problems. There are so many different things that factor into youth homelessness and I’m so tired of the stigma being that “they are lazy, they don’t listen, they have behavior problems.” That is not true. … They got so much fire in them to change what’s going on but nobody wanted to listen to them.
Williams: How have you grown or changed through your work with YHDP?
Keyanna Evans: I’ve grown in patience and experience in collaboration. Realizing that we are all here with the same goal in the end has shown me that wholesome work like this comes with great effort and patience.
Williams: What do you think is the vision for ending youth homelessness?
Armani Arnold: We’re getting close to figuring out how we can help, what ways we can tackle to assist with the stereotype barriers around youth homelessness. Cause it’s more than just not having a home and a place to stay at.
Correction: A previous version of this article misstated the entity that applied for the federal Youth Homelessness Demonstration Program grant.
$8.2M in emergency rental assistance spent at Detroit properties where landlords still moved to evict
DETROIT—University of Michigan researchers found that at least $8.2 million in federal emergency rental assistance funds were spent at single-family properties in Detroit where landlords still moved to evict tenants within six months of payment.
A new analysis by Alexa Eisenberg and Kate Brantley of U-M’s Poverty Solutions revealed that pandemic-era emergency rental assistance did not guarantee housing stability for many Detroit tenants.
Their report, “The crisis is not temporary: Evictions after emergency rental assistance in Detroit,” includes a review of approvals for Michigan’s COVID Emergency Rental Assistance (CERA) program and eviction filing data, as well as interviews with legal aid professionals, housing advocates, and tenant organizers.
Among 5,600 single-family rental properties in Detroit where a tenant was approved for at least one rent relief payment between June 2021 and February 2022, 15% of landlords moved to evict tenants within six months of the last recorded CERA approval date. At least $8.2 million in CERA funds was spent at these properties. As the analysis covered just about half of CERA-approved rentals in Detroit, the researchers say this amount is likely much higher.
In 2021, Congress allocated $46.55 billion for rent relief programs that aimed to stabilize housing for tenants unable to pay rent during the pandemic and repay debts to landlords. In Michigan, the CERA program accepted applications from April 2021 through June 2022.
“During CERA, Detroit landlords made extensive use of the court system to collect rental assistance, terminate tenancies and file serial lawsuits against tenants despite their widespread noncompliance with rental codes,” said Eisenberg, a postdoctoral research fellow at Poverty Solutions. “Even with unprecedented funding and more ‘tenant-friendly’ procedures in place during the pandemic, the court system still heavily favored landlords.”
The authors’ previous research showed that eviction cases were far more likely to end in a dismissal during the CERA period, preventing many eviction judgments. However, this new report finds housing instability among CERA participants was more extensive than court records quantify. Not only were eviction protections short-lived for many tenants who participated in CERA, but also many case dismissals were conditioned on a tenant’s forced move.
Landlords filed 24,000 new eviction cases during the CERA period, leaving tenants with eviction records that can jeopardize their future stability, according to Eisenberg and Brantley. Among CERA-approved properties with a subsequent eviction action within six months, 69% were associated with multiple pandemic-era filings. This was three times higher than the prevalence of serial eviction filings at comparable properties with no CERA approval, implying that landlords approved for CERA funds were more likely to repeatedly file for eviction than others.
Local nonprofits were ill-equipped to means-test the high volume of CERA applicants, creating protracted delays that heightened the risk that landlords would take eviction action, the researchers said. Administrative delays in the CERA roll-out disproportionately harmed Detroit’s majority-Black renter population, they said. When CERA closed to new applicants in June 2022, just 66% of applications in Wayne County had been processed, compared to 91% in the rest of the state.
The new report documents how high case volumes, tenants’ limited access to full legal representation, and default eviction judgments against tenants who could not appear in court undermined CERA’s effectiveness. One tenant organizer interviewed by the researchers commented on how legal aid and rental assistance came too late in the process to prevent the costs of eviction.
“(Tenants) should be able to get legal aid and other help before it gets to court. You’re gonna wait till I’m already drowning to say, ‘Hey, I’m throwing you a lifeline?’” the organizer said.
The researchers also found that 90% of the 842 CERA-approved properties with an eviction action within six months lacked a certificate of compliance (CoC) at the date of CERA approval. For properties without a CoC, the city placed 20% of the landlord’s eligible CERA funds in escrow until they brought the property up to code or made repairs worth the escrow amount.
Yet, just 27 of the 757 noncertified properties that received CERA funds came into compliance between the date of CERA approval and the subsequent eviction action, signaling that landlords were rarely compelled to improve unsafe housing conditions, the researchers said.
“So long as the supply of quality housing for low-income renters remains deeply inadequate and dictated primarily by the interests of investors in the private housing market, even abundantly resourced or effectively run emergency rental assistance programs will fail to stabilize tenants,” said Brantley, project manager for Poverty Solutions’ housing stability and homelessness agenda.
Brantley and Eisenberg point to policies that can address the implementation deficiencies, loopholes and landlord tactics that their analysis brought to light. They recommend establishing a mandatory pre-court eviction diversion program, requiring that landlords demonstrate good cause and code compliance in order to file for eviction, and expunging pandemic-era eviction records.
“As researchers, we urge policymakers to align themselves with and work alongside tenant-led organizations to bring about their visions for housing justice,” Eisenberg said.
Ann Arbor to pilot guaranteed basic income program in partnership with University of Michigan’s Poverty Solutions
Ann Arbor Deputy City Administrator John Fournier (left) and U-M Poverty Solutions Associate Director Kristin Seefeldt address city council about the guaraneed income proposal at a meeting on June 5, 2023.
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ANN ARBOR – Ann Arbor City Council voted June 5 to approve an agreement with the University of Michigan’s Poverty Solutions to pilot a guaranteed basic income program aimed at low- and moderate-income entrepreneurs in Ann Arbor.
In April 2022, city council allocated $1.6 million of the city’s federal American Rescue Plan Act funds to a basic income pilot. After reviewing proposals for how the pilot program could be structured and evaluated, city staff recommended partnering with U-M’s Poverty Solutions, a university-wide initiative that partners with communities and policymakers to find new ways to prevent and alleviate poverty through action-based research.
“We are delighted to be partnering with the University of Michigan on this important project,” said Mayor Christopher Taylor. “Guaranteed income programs are flourishing across our country, and they are proving to be an impactful tool to combat generational poverty. By partnering with the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor will increase our understanding of the effectiveness of these programs, and — crucially — serve members of our community who are in need.”
The proposal from U-M’s Poverty Solutions calls for a guaranteed income program that will provide payments of approximately $530 per month for 24 months to 100 low- and moderate-income entrepreneurs who live in Ann Arbor. These are individuals engaged in low-level entrepreneurship, such as gig work, informal businesses from their home, or services provided to neighbors or friends.
Priority will be given to Ann Arbor residents who receive any form of public assistance, including those on a waiting list for housing assistance, families with children who are eligible for free and reduced-price school lunches, and others who are not receiving assistance but can demonstrate economic need or hardship. Owners of formally incorporated businesses may also participate, but their consistent annual income must be low or moderate (no more than 300% of the federal poverty line), and they must also demonstrate economic need or hardship.
Many small entrepreneurial efforts, particularly those led by Black owners and other people of color, face multiple barriers to success, including lack of access to capital and credit that is the result of longstanding racial wealth stripping and discriminatory lending practices. The COVID-19 pandemic was especially challenging for business owners of color and created additional hardship for low- and moderate-income households. The new guaranteed income program aims to offset structural inequities and help people recover from the economic impact of the pandemic.
In addition to implementing Ann Arbor’s guaranteed basic income program, Poverty Solutions also will evaluate it to determine whether the monthly payments:
- Positively contribute to participants’ social determinants of health, specifically through increased housing, food, and transportation security, improvements in physical and mental health and access to care, and improvements in access and quality of child care;
- Help small businesses and entrepreneurs stabilize and/or grow their businesses, or not;
- Allow entrepreneurs the time and resources to focus on their business, or not; and
- Contribute to the positive economic growth of the community, or not.
To assess the program’s impact, Poverty Solutions will conduct a randomized controlled trial that compares outcomes for the 100 participants in the guaranteed basic income program to outcomes for 100 entrepreneurs that do not receive the additional income.
The City of Ann Arbor, Friends In Deed, workforce development groups, and other community partners will assist in defining specific eligibility criteria for the guaranteed basic income program and recruiting participants for the study.
“The guaranteed basic income pilot is a valuable resource to support families and individuals who are pursuing entrepreneurship opportunities as a pathway out of poverty,” said Tracey Hoesch, director of Friends in Deed’s Circles program, which takes a relationship-based approach to lifting families out of poverty. “Our hope is that this program will provide small business owners who are experiencing poverty with a stable and reliable revenue source that will help them successfully grow and develop their businesses while also meeting their own basic needs.”
The following people are available to discuss Ann Arbor’s guaranteed basic income pilot program:
Ann Arbor Councilmember Linh Song is in her first term as a member of council, and she advocated for the inclusion of this program in the city’s ARPA allocation.
“We know some community members were disproportionately impacted by the pandemic,” Song said. “This program recognizes and addresses this inequity so that program participants can have a fighting chance to continue to live and work in Ann Arbor.”
Kristin Seefeldt is an associate professor of social work and public policy and the associate director of Poverty Solutions. She is one of the principal investigators for Poverty Solutions’ evaluation of Ann Arbor’s guaranteed income pilot.
“Many low- and moderate-income folks are engaged in different types of entrepreneurial activity, some because they hope to grow a business, others because they need the income to meet their monthly expenses. We want to see how this guaranteed income allows this community to improve their personal economic security and well-being, whether that’s through expanding their business efforts or by scaling back,” Seefeldt said.
New policy brief from Wayne State University, Poverty Solutions reveals Detroit schools under-identify homeless students
DETROIT – A recent study conducted by the Wayne State University College of Education’s Detroit Partnership for Education Equity & Research (Detroit PEER) found that students experiencing homelessness and housing instability are severely under-identified by Detroit schools. The study found that between 11-16% of Detroit students faced homelessness or housing instability in 2021-22, but as many as three in four of these students were not identified by their schools as homeless.
The study, conducted in partnership with researchers at Poverty Solutions at the University of Michigan and the College of Education at Michigan State University, noted three main factors that contribute to the under-identification of students who experience homelessness and housing instability:
- awareness about resources and rights related to student homelessness,
- parent trust in discussing housing challenges with schools, and
- school follow-through when parents do share their housing situations.
Many parents interviewed during the study were unaware of their rights and the resources available to them. They also feared social stigma and potential negative consequences for their children if their housing situation became known.
“Identifying and supporting students experiencing homelessness is crucial for their success in school,” said Sarah Winchell Lenhoff, associate professor of educational leadership and policy studies at Wayne State University and director of Detroit PEER. “Housing instability is a major contributor to chronic absenteeism in Detroit and can have negative academic and social effects. When schools provide additional resources and support, they can help alleviate these effects by providing transportation and resources for families.”
A center supported by the Wayne State University College of Education and external funders, the Detroit Partnership for Education Equity & Research conducts collaborative, community-centered, and equity-focused research on issues that affect academic, behavioral, and socio-emotional outcomes of public school students in Detroit. Researchers seek to contribute new knowledge to academic scholarship while also providing educators, practitioners, and policymakers with evidence-based research they can use to make informed decisions. This study was funded by the Michigan Department of Education.
According to the study’s findings, Detroit schools identified only 4% of students as experiencing homelessness in the 2021-22 school year, despite estimates suggesting that at least 11% of students were eligible for services under the federal McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act, which requires schools to identify homeless students and ensure they have equal opportunities to succeed in education. Researchers also found differences in the identification of students between Detroit Public Schools Community District (DPSCD) and charter schools. DPSCD identified about 29% of their students who experienced homelessness or housing instability, while Detroit charter schools identified only about 16% of their students in similar situations. This discrepancy may be the result of DPSCD’s recent increased investment in identifying and supporting homeless students.
To increase the identification of students facing housing instability, researchers recommend that Detroit schools strengthen relationships with parents and improve communication about the availability of services. Some strategies include providing information about available resources during school registration and enrollment, ensuring that families know they qualify for support if they lack a stable residence and implementing surveys to check students’ housing status at multiple points throughout the year instead of just during enrollment. In addition, it is essential for all staff members to understand the resources and services available under the McKinney-Vento Act and how to connect students to them.
“These findings raise concerns about the education of homeless students in Detroit and highlight the need for immediate action,” said Lenhoff. “Detroit schools must prioritize identifying and supporting these vulnerable students to ensure they have an equal opportunity to succeed academically.”
Poverty Solutions research assistants support groups advancing Detroit financial well-being projects
By Lauren Slagter
DETROIT – Getting money into the savings accounts of some Detroiters is more challenging than one might think. Before people can think about long-term financial planning, they need their immediate needs met. And those opening bank accounts for the first time may face hurdles gathering the necessary personal identification documents.
These were some of Communities First’s takeaways from a small-scale pilot of its new Family Mobility Savings Program that deposited money into savings accounts for eight people as compensation for completing financial literacy and job readiness tasks. Communities First was one of 16 teams participating in the Detroit Financial Well-Being Innovation Challenge that shared their progress so far at a showcase event on Friday, April 28, hosted by GreenLight Fund at Durfee Innovation Society.
The five-year challenge that launched in February 2022 is run by United Way for Southeastern Michigan in partnership with the University of Michigan’s Poverty Solutions, whose research on the financial well-being of Detroiters motivated the challenge. Six to eight of the project teams will be selected this summer to continue to the pilot stage, where they will receive additional funding and technical assistance to start implementing their ideas.
“Not all of the organizations are going to make it to the next phase. But an event like this is really important because it helps to generate outside interest in these pilots so they can explore other paths to move forward on,” said Leonymae Aumentado, strategic projects manager at Poverty Solutions, who supports the implementation of the challenge.
At the showcase, Communities First staff outlined their plans to enroll 100 people in a six-month pilot of the Family Mobility Savings Program. To help them prepare to expand the savings program, U-M Poverty Solutions research assistant Nick Voelkner identified and analyzed barriers to financial security for Detroiters, including banks’ reliance on consumer reporting agencies to screen potential patrons, predatory lenders, overdraft fees, people’s distrust of banks, and low levels of financial literacy.
“It was really helpful and gave us different eyes to look at things,” said Ashley Strozier, family mobility coordinator at Communities First. “I’m not a data person. I’m person-to-person. The data gave me different things to aim for.”
In all, 14 Poverty Solutions research assistants provided support to Financial Well-Being Innovation Challenge teams, gathering information on topics ranging from community land trusts to demographics of Black workers in Detroit and the barriers faced by small business owners and entrepreneurs.
“The goal for the research assistants doing this work is to support the organizations,” said Aumentado, who oversaw their work. “I also saw it as an opportunity for the research assistants to build a set of skills that are going to be useful to them if they want to work in this type of space.”
Voelkner (MSW ‘23), a Brighton native, addressed research questions for Communities First as well as Southwest Economic Solutions and GenesisHOPE. This was his first time working on financial well-being issues, and he was struck by how many banking policies benefit only the financial institution while negatively affecting people’s ability to accumulate savings.
“Everything I’ve learned from Poverty Solutions has been so helpful,” Voelkner said. “It’s not only the memo writing, but how to structure it and convey information in a way that’s accessible and understandable and how to select information that’s really relevant.”
Kyra Reumann-Moore (MPA ‘23), originally of Philadelphia, said she also appreciated the experience she gained writing policy memos and analyzing qualitative research. She worked on research questions for the National Black Worker Center, a Black workers’ rights advocacy organization with 10 centers across the country and nine more centers in an incubation phase.
The organization is exploring opening a Detroit location, so Reumann-Moore gathered information on Black worker demographics, employment levels, and wages in Detroit as well as the history of the local labor movement and the migration of Black workers to Detroit. The research memo was so helpful that LaRonda Schenck Scott, development director for the National Black Worker Center, said she’s interested in having Reumann-Moore complete similar research for the other nine cities incubating Black Worker Centers.
“I gained a lot of knowledge that will be transferable to how I go about understanding the context of different cities,” Reumann-Moore said. “I love how community-centric the challenge is and how they are trying to improve the financial well-being of Detroiters based on what they’re hearing from residents.”
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