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Poverty Solutions at the University of Michigan

Joan and Sanford Weill hall
Suite 5100
735 South State Street
Ann Arbor, MI 48109-3091

Key Issues


The COVID-19 pandemic has laid bare systemic inequities, including health disparities, economic inequality, and racial injustice. In response to the pandemic, Poverty Solutions has developed and shared rapid-response research and policy analysis to inform the efforts of policymakers, government agencies, and nonprofit organizations to support people with low incomes and those living in poverty.

Our work during the pandemic has relied on the strong relationships we’ve built over the years with government agencies and service providers – a foundation that enabled us to respond quickly to the crisis, in partnership with government and community.

Scholars on the impact of COVID-19

Scholars at the University of Michigan are available to discuss how the coronavirus pandemic and responses at the federal, state, and local levels are likely impacting low-income families in the U.S. They can comment on issues related to unemployment, food security, housing stability, access to health care, transportation, internet access, access to child care, and consumer finance.

Coronavirus and low-income families: U-M experts can discuss impact 

Find experts on coronavirus-related topics

Read the Q&A with Poverty Solutions Director H. Luke Shaefer

Resource Guides

In response to the pandemic, Poverty Solutions and our partners developed community education tools to ensure residents and community advocates have up to date information on how to access critical resources to support health and economic stability.

Michigan COVID-19 Pandemic Resource Guide

On March 27, 2020, we released the Michigan COVID-19 Pandemic Resource Guide, which provides information on how to access various resources aimed at supporting Michiganders through the coronavirus pandemic and related economic slowdown. The guide has been shared broadly by community organizations, school districts, and the media.

>> Read more about the resource guide

Stimulus Check Guide

Poverty Solutions partnered with Civilla to create a website to make sure Michiganders received their federal stimulus checks as soon as possible. The site, viewed over 250,000 times and used as a template for other organizations and governments such as the city of Detroit, walks people through a step-by-step process to ensure they have provided the IRS with the information necessary to receive their stimulus checks.

>> Read more about the stimulus check website

COVID-19 Response in the State of Michigan

At the state level, Poverty Solutions Faculty Director Luke Shaefer has worked in close partnership with  the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services to connect families with resources to help them meet basic needs, streamline processes to reduce strain on families in crisis, and help enable families to adhere to the state’s shelter-in-place order. These efforts helped to inform several responses by the State, including:

  • Making Michigan the first state to deliver added food assistance to families with federal funds totaling nearly $1 billion.
  • Gain federal approval to suspend work requirements, recertification activities, and in-person interview requirements for food and cash assistance programs, eliminating cumbersome barriers to more quickly deliver resources.
  • Implement numerous policy changes to streamline access to energy assistance, and negotiating long-term rate reductions and subsidy programs with DTE and Consumers Energy.

Poverty Solutions also advised state and local officials on policies to support housing stability through the crisis, and mitigate the risk faced by homeless families and individuals.

>> Read more in this op-ed by Patrick Cooney and Luke Shaefer 

COVID-19 Response in Detroit

Poverty Solutions worked alongside partners at the city to inform the City of Detroit’s response to the COVID-19 outbreak, including the eviction moratorium, homelessness response, and access to technology for Detroit public school students.

In response to the pandemic U-M’s Detroit Metro Area Communities Study conducted several rapid-response surveys examining how Detroiters are adapting to try to make ends meet in the face of widespread job loss and economic upheaval. 

DMACS COVID-19 findings


News Releases

Research Projects

In the Media

The New York Times | Apr. 29, 2021

A Progressive Vision Is Possible if We Spend Money Thoughtfully Now

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Michigan Advance | Apr. 7, 2021

‘This could set women back generations’: The pandemic recession’s toll on the workforce and families

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Bridge Michigan | Mar. 31, 2021

Opinion | We learned something in the pandemic: Government matters

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