July 29, 2019

Monday, July 29, 2019

Housing Costs Out of Reach?

New data shows a Michigan resident earning minimum wage would need to work 58 hours per week to afford a 1-bedroom apartment, highlighting the cost burden of housing.

The data which comes from the National Low Income Housing Coalition's (NLIHC) latest report Out of Reach shows affordable housing is an issue nationwide as nearly every U.S. county “lacks an adequate supply of affordable and available homes for low-income renters.

Michigan data:

  • Our state ranks 29th in the country for housing costs.

  • The average wage of a renter in Michigan is $14.96 per hour.

  • For perspective, a Michigan resident would need to earn $17.25 per hour to afford a two-bedroom apartment in our state – that’s $8 more an hour than our state’s current minimum wage.

  • A Michigan resident earning minimum wage would need to work 73 hours per week to afford a two-bedroom apartment.

  • Ann Arbor, Livingston County, the Detroit-Warren-Livonia region, Lansing and Grand Rapids are among the most expensive areas of the state when it comes to housing.

The need for affordable workforce housing is a major issue around the state and one that CMF members are working to address in the communities they serve.

The Pennies From Heaven Foundation, based in Ludington, shared there’s extra pressure on housing that’s affordable for lower to moderate income families in the local lakeshore community. The area only has a 1 percent vacancy rate for apartments.  

“We are working to foster relationships with housing developers to find the right developers and projects for our community,” Monica Schuyler, executive director, Pennies From Heaven Foundation said. “This relationship includes helping to identify potential sites, making connections with local municipalities and providing community data. We have done several mission investments or grants to help provide the gap funding that makes it possible to build affordable housing for low to moderate income families that the construction market struggles to support without subsidies.”

The foundation has also served as a community advocate educating leaders on the situation.

In Grand Haven and Holland work is also underway, led by the community foundations.

"The Grand Haven Area Community Foundation (GHACF) recognizes that the costs for a household to survive have increased over the last several years, while income levels have remained relatively flat," Hadley Streng, president, GHACF said. "As a result, we have invested significant grant dollars in Housing Next – a collaboration of community organizations. Housing Next and the GHACF continue to partner with individuals and organizations across sectors in our region to raise awareness of the shortage of workforce housing, to reexamine and refine policies and zoning ordinances that may be dated, and to invest in and unlock solutions to make workforce housing affordable so that people can live, work, and play in the same community."

Streng and Mike Goorhouse, president and CEO of the Community Foundation of the Holland/Zeeland Area, co-chair the Housing Next Leadership Council.

In Flint, the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation is supporting the development of the Marketplace Apartments in downtown. The foundation recently shared a preview of the project on social media. The 92-unit apartment and townhouse development will provide affordable housing options and include retail space, a community area with a playground and green space. It’s currently under construction on the site of the former YWCA and expected to be completed by the end of the year.

In Kalamazoo, construction is currently underway on The Creamery, an investment of the Kalamazoo Community Foundation. As the community foundation shares, The Creamery, which is located in the Edison neighborhood will provide apartments for people with low- and middle-income, a YWCA child care center and a small business accelerator.

As CMF reported earlier this year, Frey Foundation and Rotary Charities of Traverse City formed a new partnership to address the workforce housing shortage in Northwest Michigan. 

While work is underway around the state, on the national level the NLIHC is pushing for change on the federal level.

“Members of Congress are starting to take note: a number have introduced big, bold bills to address the nation’s affordable housing crisis,” Diane Yentel, president and CEO of NLIHC said. “The topic of affordable housing is also becoming increasingly prevalent on the 2020 presidential campaign trails. We now have a tremendous opportunity to implement federal housing policy solutions to fund affordable housing programs at the scale necessary.”

Want more?

Read the full report.






PFAS Contamination in MI takes Center Stage on Capitol Hill

The contamination of Michigan’s water supply by chemical substances commonly found in fabric treatments, soaps, firefighting foam and other products took center stage on Capitol Hill last week.

Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) are a group of man-made chemicals that break down very slowly in the environment, are highly soluble and easily transfer through soil to groundwater.

The latest data released earlier this month from the state shows there are 62 confirmed PFAS sites in Michigan.

Sandy Wynn-Stelt, a Belmont resident, lives in one of the areas that has been under scrutiny for PFAS contamination from waste linked to Wolverine World Wide, Inc. Wynn-Stelt testified before a congressional subcommittee in D.C. last week about how PFAS contamination has affected her family’s health.

“The bottom line is these manufacturers made and used these chemicals,” Wynn-Stelt told MLive. “They really need to step up and clean it up.... They literally made billions in profits from this."

Wynn-Stelt is sharing her story with CMF members as a speaker at the Green and Blue Network’s breakout session at CMF’s Annual Conference in Traverse City this October.

She will be joined by Robert Delaney, defense and state memorandum of agreement coordinator for the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ).

Delaney co-authored a 2012 internal MDEQ report warning of PFAS contamination in our environment and the dangers it presents. His work provides a road map for addressing the PFAS contamination crisis.

Earlier this year, Delaney shared information with the Green and Blue Network as the CMF learning community has been diving into deep discussion around the health and environmental issue statewide.

Delaney said that PFAS exposure is associated with many serious diseases including types of cancer, thyroid disease, preeclampsia, immunity issues and more.

For Wynn-Stelt the health effects have been devastating. MLive reports her “blood tested at 750 times the national average for PFOS, one type of the chemical linked to cancer, thyroid and kidney disease and several other adverse health effects. Her husband died of a condition that may be linked to it.”

Delaney has shared with CMF members that foundations can get involved in finding solutions to the PFAS threat by supporting education and data gathering as he points to a lack of awareness, research and urgency.

“Through a robust effort, Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy [EGLE] tested municipal water sources. Its data showed more than 1.5 million people in Michigan have been drinking water with some level of PFAS contamination,” Melissa Damaschke, program officer, Fred A. and Barbara M. Erb Family Foundation said. “’Do not eat’ fish advisories have been issued for some of our state's rivers and lakes after PFAS chemicals were found in fish tissue. It makes us wonder, is PFAS the DDT [an insecticide] of the 21st century? As environmental funders, we want to protect the health of people and our natural resources, including the Great Lakes.”

The GBN will continue the conversation at Annual Conference with CMF members, taking a closer look at the impact PFAS has on public health and the role that government and philanthropy can play in addressing these issues in the session Leveraging Partnerships to Address PFAS in Our Water.

Meanwhile on the state level, work continues through the Michigan PFAS Action Response Team (MPART) which builds on previous work to research, identify, recommend and implement PFAS response actions throughout the state. 

Governor Gretchen Whitmer released a statement last week about PFAS contamination following the testimony of Steve Sliver, executive director of the Michigan PFAS Action Response Team, at the congressional hearing. 

“I’m pleased to see the committee focusing on this critical issue and I appreciate the continued leadership from Michigan’s congressional delegation on this evolving issue," Whitmer said. "Michigan has and will continue to be a leader in identifying PFAS contamination and holding responsible parties accountable, but we need additional federal resources to support continued testing and cleanup of PFAS in Michigan."

Want more?

Check out the state’s PFAS resources.







CECP Shares Latest Corporate Giving Trends

CECP is offering a first look at the latest corporate giving trends highlighted in its Giving in Numbers brief which provides a snapshot of corporate social investments, employee volunteerism, engagement and more.

We’re taking a look at the findings from 250 companies surveyed ahead of the full report’s release, which is expected this fall.

In total, the companies surveyed gave $26 billion. That’s a 9 percent increase from the aggregate giving of more than 250 companies surveyed by CECP in the 2018 edition of Giving in Numbers.  

Key takeaways from the 2019 brief:

  • 28 percent of total corporate giving by the participating companies went to education. This rate remains the same as 2018.

  • 25 percent of total giving went to health and social service programs. This rate remains the same as 2018.

  • 16 percent of total giving went to community and economic development programs. This rate is a slight increase of 1 percent from 2018.

  • Seven out of 10 companies reported giving globally. This rate remains the same as 2018.

  • The average corporate volunteer participation rate was 33 percent. That’s a 3 percent increase from 2018.

  • Approximately 66 percent of participating companies offer paid-release time volunteer programs. This rate is a slight increase of 1 percent from 2018.

  • Nine out of 10 companies match employee donations. This rate remains the same as 2018.

CMF corporate members have been actively engaging with one another over the past year to learn best practices for improving corporate giving strategies in the state.

On August 21, CMF corporate foundation and giving program members will gather for a conversation around capacity building in a session led by the Michigan Nonprofit Association (MNA).

Capacity building was a major topic at the Corporate Spring Retreat in May as funders expressed an interest in exploring strong capacity building programs to learn how to strengthen their own work in that area and better align with their nonprofit partners.

In August, MNA will talk about capacity building as it relates to diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) and some of the unique technology needs the organization is seeing in Michigan.

In addition to this discussion at the upcoming convening the group will also have dedicated time to crowdsource ideas from their corporate giving peers and share issues and topics related to their work.

Want more?

Check out the data from CECP.

Register for the Summer Corporate Convening happening on August 21 in Lansing.

Take a look at the two corporate-focused breakout sessions designed by CMF corporate members taking place at CMF’s Annual Conference: The Balancing Act Between Company and Stakeholder and Creating Connections for Bigger Impact and Business Success.







Clean & Green program, supported by Ruth Mott Foundation, transforms vacant properties and is linked to crime reduction

Content excerpted and adapted from an MLive article. Read the full article.

The Genesee County Land Bank’s Clean & Green program, funded by the Ruth Mott Foundation, is engaging the community in the transformation of vacant properties, an effort that has been linked to a notable reduction in crime in those area.

Clean & Green supports community-based groups and organizations in maintaining and beautifying vacant properties owned by Land Bank.

Each year, Land Bank selects groups through a competitive application process. They must already be an established group or organization with a strong connection to the area they will be working in, have experience in property maintenance and have the tools and equipment required to do the job.

Each group is required to maintain at least 25 properties every three weeks, while some maintain as many as 130. The groups receive a stipend, the value of which depends on the number of properties the group maintains but equates to about $20 per property.

The groups are encouraged to use the stipend to employ local youth, as youth engagement is a program priority. In 2018, roughly 700 of the 1,100 residents in the Clean & Green program were youth.

Clean & Green groups maintained more than 3,700 vacant Flint properties in 2018.

In addition to making the streets of Flint cleaner and more attractive, the program makes them safer, too.

In a 2018 study of the program, University of Michigan researchers found that streets with vacant lots maintained through the Clean & Green program had about 40 percent fewer assaults and violent crimes than streets with vacant and unmaintained lots.

“The extent of the findings was very, very encouraging,” said lead researcher Justin Heinze, an assistant professor at the U-M School of Public Health in a press release.

Heinze said the results of the study illustrate that a large financial investment is not required to have an impact on reducing crime, but community engagement is required.

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