January 8, 2018

Monday, January 8, 2018

New Map Provides Snapshot of Poverty in MI Communities

We’re getting a comprehensive look at how pervasive poverty is within our state and communities through a new database from Poverty Solutions at the University of Michigan.

The new poverty map provides a range of insights regarding those living below the poverty level to those who are working but still can’t afford the basics (they’re considered asset limited, income constrained, employed, or ALICE).

“Any one statistic shows only a piece of the puzzle,” Luke Shaefer, associate professor of social work and public policy and director of Poverty Solutions at U of M said. “By looking at a range of things we learn more about the strengths and opportunities for improving the lives of Michigan residents.”

As CMF has reported, Shaefer’s research provides an inside look at the realities of extreme poverty, how it affects parents, their children and creates many barriers and challenges.

Shaefer recently spoke to CMF members and educational leaders from around the state at our Chronic Absenteeism Conference about the pervasiveness of poverty and how this research has also been used to better understand the influencers that affect chronic absenteeism, a key indicator correlated to student success. For example, children living in poverty are more likely to lack basic health and safety supports (health care, transportation, stable housing, food, clothes, etc.) that ensure a child is more likely to get to school, be able to focus and optimize learning.

This is just one example of how poverty is affecting our Michigan communities.

How are people living in Michigan doing? Highlights of the data from the poverty map include:

  • Those who live below the poverty level:
    • Statewide: 15.1 percent of Michigan residents
    • Northern Michigan: 15.8 percent
    • Mid-Michigan: 15.3 percent
    • West Michigan: 14.3 percent
    • Southeast Michigan: 12.6 percent
  • Those who are considered ALICE, they’re working and living above the poverty line but still can’t afford the basics:
    • Statewide: Nearly 25 percent of Michigan residents
    • Northern Michigan: 25.5 percent
    • Mid-Michigan: 24.4 percent
    • West Michigan: 24.4 percent
    • Southeast Michigan: 23.7 percent
  • Those who receive food stamps/SNAP benefits:
    • Statewide: 14.7 percent of Michigan residents receive food stamps or SNAP assistance
    • Northern Michigan: 15.6 percent receive food assistance
    • Mid-Michigan: 14.9 percent receive food assistance
    • West Michigan: 13.9 percent receive food assistance
    • Southeast Michigan: 11.6 percent receive food assistance

There’s several other statistics available on the map, you can also view county-by-county statistics on the map to see where your county stands.

What’s next for this data? Poverty Solutions shared in a news release that this map was developed to help our lawmakers, community organizations and the public have a better understanding of what’s happening in our state and to help develop more targeted solutions.

This year we have seen Michigan’s minimum wage increase by 35-cents, setting it now at $9.25 an hour. In addition to this strategy to overcome poverty, Shaefer indicates more solutions are needed and invites foundations to utilize the data to inform their decision-making.

 Shaefer tells CMF, “I hope it can help inform their (funders) work and decision making. Behind this overview, we also have a publicly available database of sources and a complete list of indicators available for review. Poverty Solutions may create tailored maps for additional categories of available data, such as housing, health, and child-focused data. We are also able to incorporate new sets of data into our existing dataset. If there is something foundations are interested in examining, we invite them to reach out to us.”

Want more?

Connect with Poverty Solutions.

Check out the Poverty Map.

Dive into our earlier coverage of the 2017 ALICE Report.






Overcoming Food Deserts: Encouraging More Grocery Stores to Locate in Downtown Areas

Our state now has new legislation in place aimed at providing access to food, incentivizing grocery stores to locate in urban areas, encouraging investments, creating new jobs and transforming property that otherwise wouldn’t be revitalized.

Governor Rick Snyder recently signed the bill, which his office shared in a news release, expanding the definition of ‘eligible property’ for community revitalization incentives to include property utilized for a retail supermarket, grocery store, produce market, or delicatessen that is located in a downtown area or in a development area.

The bill also requires at least 5 percent of community revitalization incentives be awarded by the Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC) to these food initiatives.

“A healthier Michigan is a stronger Michigan, and this bill helps promote the development of grocery stores to provide more Michiganders with access to healthier food options,” Snyder said. “We have the second most agriculturally diverse state in the nation, and it’s important that we expand the accessibility of Michigan’s world-class food products to all Michiganders.”

Andy Schor, former state representative and now mayor of Lansing, championed the bill noting the need for grocery stores in our downtown areas saying they’re attracting people of all ages, “but a lack of easily accessible grocery stores is still a stumbling block for communities.”

As CMF reported last spring, about 1.8 million Michiganders lack adequate access to healthy food.

The USDA’s Food Access Research Atlas illustrates how “food deserts,” areas lacking adequate access to grocery stores, exist statewide. 

If you check out the atlas, you can see an overview of low-income areas and those that lack access to grocery stores from numerous cities including Detroit, Flint, Grand Rapids and Muskegon, to rural areas in Northern Michigan and much of the Upper Peninsula.

Starting next year Detroit will have a new grocery store in operation on East Jefferson, making it the city’s third Meijer store. The Detroit Free Press has reported this will be a new small format store for the chain, like the small store currently under construction in downtown Grand Rapids.

Grand Rapids’ westside store will be the city’s first downtown Meijer, as the city’s westside continues to experience revitalization and growth.

MiBiz has reported that Target is also planning to open in downtown East Lansing next year.

Now that this legislation is in place in Michigan it’s expected to provide even greater opportunities for community revitalization and public-private partnerships to create better access to healthy food.







State Agency Asking for Feedback on Next Steps for Renewable Energy in MI

As we are seeing more renewable energy projects and commitments around the state, the Michigan Public Service Commission (MPSC) is asking for feedback on a new cost-based model for customers who want to develop their own on-site renewable energy.

As Crain’s Detroit Business reports, the state’s Net Metering program is ending due to Michigan’s 2016 energy legislation reform.

The current program allows people to develop on-site renewable energy such as wind turbines or solar panels to meet all or some of their electric needs and receive credits for any excess energy generated that goes back into the energy grid. Michigan residents can still develop their own on-site renewable energy, but the model is changing.

What’s the proposed change?

  • Now the MPSC is tasked with creating a cost-based distributed generation tariff (DGT). Distributed generation is the approach used by customers to produce electricity, in this case, renewable energy.
  • The MPSC says “although customers will see higher monthly bills than under the prior NEM (net metering) billing mechanisms, the difference is solely attributable to recovery of a Distributed Generation customer’s ‘equitable cost of service’ and ‘fair and equitable use of the grid.’”

The agency is taking comments on their proposal for the DGT through this Wednesday, January 10. 

Until the model is finalized this spring, it’s difficult to say if or how it may impact renewable energy participation.

This comes as we are getting new numbers from the MPSC which show renewable energy usage is growing in our state.

The MPSC’s annual report details a 28 percent increase in residential and business solar energy participation.

Crain’s Detroit Business reports, “more than 92,000 people now work in the clean energy industry in Michigan, which ranks third among 11 Midwest states in clean energy employment.”

The city of Ann Arbor recently committed to be 100 percent renewable energy by 2035.

MLive reports that the city may consider joining DTE Energy’s MIGreenPower Program. The program, which launched last spring, is a renewable energy program that’s open to all DTE business and residential customers and allows them to increase the amount of renewable energy they use in 5 percent increments, up to 100 percent. 

DTE Energy currently has 47 renewable energy projects in operation around the state.

Consumers Energy also has a robust and growing renewable energy portfolio with their Green Generation Program for customers, solar gardens and their solar rooftop program.

Consumers Energy announced last week its third wind energy project is now serving customers in the Thumb. In its current phase it can serve about 17,000 residents.

With all of this progress, in December, the C. S. Mott Foundation announced a shift in grantmaking around climate change solutions in 2018, moving from boosting the use of renewable energy in Michigan to international work. The foundation says this shift is due in part to successful outcomes in Michigan.

“One of the goals of the climate change solutions program we approved in 2015 was to accelerate Michigan’s clean energy transition,” Sam Passmore, environment program director, the C.S. Mott Foundation said. “The foundation helped support that transition by providing a total of $3 million to more than 10 grantees working on clean energy solutions at the community level. However, it also became clear over the last three years that Michigan’s clean energy transition is very much underway, due to powerful economic and policy forces.”

A potential sign we will see continued growth for clean and renewable energy in communities as they seek to cut costs and reduce their environmental footprint.

Want more?

View the MPSC's resources on this topic, scroll down to access the "draft report."







MEMBER SPOTLIGHT: Check out the debut of our new rural philanthropy video series

Sturgis Area Community Foundation leverages mission-related investments to provide access to housing and catalyze economic development

CMF is kicking off 2018 by featuring innovative work underway by members serving rural communities in our new rural philanthropy video series. The CMF Rural Philanthropy Affinity Group led the development of this series, so members can learn from their peers about the creative and innovative solutions happening in Michigan’s rural places to improve the lives of its residents. Each month CMF will share a new story from a foundation working in a range of areas.

This month, we’re spotlighting the work of the Sturgis Area Community Foundation as they’re leveraging mission-related investments to revitalize neighborhoods and connect first-time homebuyers with turn-key ready homes.

The Sturgis Area Community Foundation loans endowment funds to the Sturgis Neighborhood Program, a nonprofit, which purchases area homes that need rehabilitation and facilitates the sale to first-time homebuyers.

The nonprofit pays back the loan (with interest) to the community foundation.

The purchase and rehabilitation of these homes in Sturgis has led to increased home values, more tax revenue generated and revitalized neighborhoods, while leading to both social and financial returns for the community foundation.

"The epiphany was 'wow - this works. Let's do it. How can we do it more, bigger, better?” Mary Dresser, co-director, Sturgis Area Community Foundation said of their mission-related investments.

 “You’re opening up the door for somebody to own a home, they’re going to be good taxpaying individuals in the community, their children will grow up here,” John Wiedlea, co-director, Sturgis Area Community Foundation said. “It allows the community to see that their local foundation wants to invest in the community and is willing to put our money where our mouth is.”

Watch the video to check out the full story from Sturgis Area Community Foundation.

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