October 21, 2019

Monday, October 21, 2019

Proposed Changes to SNAP Could Negatively Impact Families in MI

The USDA is proposing a new rule that would affect the way Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits are calculated. If enacted, nearly one in three Michigan SNAP households could lose SNAP benefits.

The rule, SNAP: Standardization of State Heating and Cooling Standard Utility Allowances has been issued by the Food and Nutrition Service as a way to address benefit inequities between states and improve program integrity.

Under current law, SNAP takes into account the utility expenses of each SNAP household. States adjust household benefits based on a state-specific Standard Utility Allowance (SUA) calculated by the state and approved by USDA. The current policy allows variances in SUAs to accommodate for differences in utility costs and rates and allows states flexibility in how they calculate those costs.

The proposed rule would standardize and cap SUA calculations across the country based on survey data.

The impact of this change nationally:

  • An estimated 19 percent of SNAP households would receive lower SNAP monthly benefits.

  • Approximately 16 percent of households would see an increase in their monthly SNAP allotment.

  • Around 8,000 current SNAP households would lose eligibility for SNAP benefits.

  • The total reduction in Federal spending associated with the proposed rule to be approximately $4.5 billion over five years (2021-2025).

  • In total, 29 states are expected to see a net loss of SNAP benefits (about $1.54 billion annually) and 22 are expected to see a net gain (about $540 million annually).

The impact of this rule in our state:

  • About 31% of SNAP households would receive lower SNAP monthly benefits. Forecasts indicate this would disproportionately impact seniors and people with disabilities.

  • Only 1% would see an increase in their monthly SNAP allotment.

  • The overall amount of SNAP benefits in MI would be cut by 5%.

SNAP plays a critical role in addressing hunger and food insecurity in our state. It is the first line of defense against hunger for low-income residents. The proposed rule could exacerbate the struggles many low-income people have paying for the costs of both food and utilities and have harmful impacts on health and well-being, as well as on the economy.

According to the Food Research and Action Center:

  • Around 97% of SNAP benefits are redeemed by the end of the month of issuance.

  • $1 of SNAP benefits leads to between $1.50 and $1.80 in total economic activity during a recession.

  • SNAP reaches key vulnerable populations: nearly 80% of SNAP households include a child, an older adult or a person with disabilities. Around 85% of all SNAP benefits go to such households.

  • Research has found that receipt of SNAP in early childhood improved high school graduation rates, adult earnings and adult health.

  • SNAP lifted 3.2 million Americans out of poverty in 2016, according to the Census Bureau’s Supplemental Poverty Measure.

  • SNAP relieves pressure on overwhelmed food banks, pantries, religious congregations and other emergency food providers across the country.

SNAP is one of the three safety net programs being discussed at CMF’s upcoming convening, “Poverty and Social Policy: Rethinking Michigan’s Safety Net” slated for November 18. This event, taking place at the Lansing Community College West Campus, will examine Michigan’s safety net approach, focusing on Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), Childcare and Development Fund (CCDF) and SNAP. The convening is designed to level-up participants in their understanding of these three programs and provide inspiration from state and national examples on effective uses of the programs to support economic mobility. Online event registration is open now.

In related news, on October 17 Governor Gretchen Whitmer and Michigan Department of Health and Human Services Director Robert Gordon announced in a press release that changes to asset limits used to determine eligibility for public assistance in the form of food assistance, cash assistance and State Emergency Relief, effective November 1. The changes are expected to increase access to these benefits for more Michiganders.

And, in another change effective Nov. 1, MDHHS will accept a client statement of assets rather than requiring applicants to complete an assets verification checklist. Among states that still have asset tests for SNAP, most states allow individuals to self-attest, a shift that is aimed at reducing barriers for those in need.

Want more?

The deadline for public comments related to SNAP Standardization of State Heating and Cooling Standard Utility Allowances is December 2.

Register for CMF’s upcoming convening Poverty and Social Policy: Rethinking Michigan’s Safety Net slated for November 18.

Read the rule SNAP Standardization of State Heating and Cooling Standard Utility Allowances.

Read the Food Research and Action Center’s Regulatory Impact Analysis.

Learn more about the policy changes coming to public assistance and asset tests via MDHHS.


New Report Details Homelessness in Michigan

Michigan is making progress among some groups experiencing homelessness despite an overall increase in the homeless population, according to a recent report released by the Michigan State Housing Development Authority (MSHDA) and Michigan’s Campaign to End Homelessness.

In 2018, Michigan saw a slight increase in the total number of people experiencing homelessness, rising from 63,024 in 2017 to 65,104 in 2018. This number had been steadily declining in recent years.  

According to Kelly Rose, chief housing solutions officer at MSHDA, the increase of homeless residents can be attributed to newer steps being taken by some communities to better document people facing homelessness in an effort to deliver services more effectively. The shortage of affordable housing in many communities is also believed to be a contributing factor.

“This annual report tells a story about our collective work and it shows that we are making progress,” Rose said. “That being said, any increase in homelessness is unacceptable and we must do more.”

Success stories from the report:

  • Homelessness among young adults ages 18-24 decreased.

  • The rate of homelessness among veterans in our state went down.

  • The average length of time people experience homelessness decreased from 92 nights in 2016 to 49 nights in 2018.

  • The rate of families connected to permanent housing with subsidies jumped to 60 percent in 2018. This is up from 20 percent in 2017.

  • There has been a four-year decline in the number of students in Michigan’s public schools experiencing homelessness.

Remaining challenges:

  • Families experiencing homelessness increased. The average monthly income for families exiting homeless services is $649, significant considering median rent in Michigan is around $835.

  • More seniors were homeless, with nearly one third experiencing homelessness for the first time.

  • About 44 percent of people who are homeless also reported living with a disability. Mental disabilities were most commonly reported.   

  • Racial disparities among our state’s homeless population persist. About 52% of people experiencing homelessness in our state are African American, yet only 13% of our state’s population is African American.

  • The graduation rate for students facing homelessness was 57 percent.     

“Our local communities tirelessly continue to respond to individuals and families accessing Michigan’s homeless response system, but we know there’s more to be done,” Rose said. “As we work to put Michigan on the road to opportunity, now more than ever we need to keep on implementing innovative approaches to ensure everyone in Michigan has a place to call home.”

The Michigan Homeless Policy Council is beginning the process of drafting a new action plan for 2020-2021, which will focus on strategies to improve the state’s homeless response system, enhance cross-system coordination and address some of the root causes of homelessness.

Recent highlights of CMF members working to address homelessness include:

  • Earlier this year, the Skillman Foundation awarded $50,000 to the Detroit Phoenix Center through its My Brother’s Keeper Detroit Innovation Challenge. The funds are being used to support its Asset Based Resource Center (ABRC), which provides homeless youth access to services including emergency housing support, laundry services, access to a computer lab, transportation assistance, and more. The program also assists with career readiness, life skills, and workshops to help youth break the cycle of homelessness.

  • Rotary Charities of Traverse City recently awarded $140,000 to The Homeless Youth Initiative, a committee of the Northwest Michigan Coalition to End Homelessness. The Homeless Youth Initiative collaborates to offer homeless youth comprehensive housing, counseling and education services that support a successful transition to healthy, independent living.

  • Michigan Health Endowment Fund awarded $100,000 to the Shelter Association of Washtenaw County to introduce a nationally recognized recuperative care program for homeless older adults discharging from hospitals. This program allows individuals experiencing homelessness the opportunity to rest in a safe environment while accessing medical care and other supportive services.

Want more? Read the full report.


CMF and Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation Welcome Three Fellows

The Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation (RCWJRF) welcomed three new fellows this month in partnership with CMF to further support young talent in the philanthropic sector: Jesse Friedman, Olivia Vaden and Margaret Zimmer.

“The fellowship program provides a terrific opportunity to make a contribution to the Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation and the larger nonprofit sector,” Maura Dewan, vice president of corporate affairs, RCWJRF said. “This program helps develop emerging leaders and contributes to the pipeline of talent for the nonprofit and philanthropic sectors in both our regions.”

Friedman, Vaden and Zimmer are RCWJRF’s first fellows, though Dewan notes that program officer, Malia Xie, was formerly part of the CMF fellowship program with the Skillman Foundation. And, Dewan had worked closely with CMF policy fellows in a previous role with the Office of Foundation Liaison.

“For these positions, we were searching for raw talent,” Dewan said. “We were seeking recent college graduates with a couple years’ work experience with a strong desire to be part of the nonprofit sector; and eager to learn with us, their peers and the CMF community.”

Through the partnership between RCWJRF and CMF, the fellows will support grantmaking activities and engage in learnings to strengthen their leadership skills and sector familiarity through a robust professional development program.

“CMF in collaboration with the [Dorothy A.] Johnson Center, is developing a thoughtful curriculum and engagement plan to support their leadership development and general knowledge of philanthropy,” Dewan said. “A key element of this partnership is providing support for CMF to build a learning cohort that brings all the other fellows currently working in Michigan together.”

The new RCWJF fellows expressed their personal and professional goals they hope the fellowship will support.

Zimmer notes that part of what drew her to the opportunity is the foundation’s dual presence in Michigan and New York. 

“The Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation Fellowship offers a unique chance to see impactful change happening in two distinct communities simultaneously,” said Zimmer. “This fellowship particularly excited me because of the opportunity to explore Detroit and Southeast Michigan while staying in touch with my Western New York roots.”

“Many of the issues facing Southeast Michigan are similar to those in northern counties, but they might be packaged or labeled differently,” said Vaden, a native of Northern Michigan. “I eventually would like to move back to Northern Michigan with a better understanding of philanthropy as a whole and use that knowledge address some of the issues facing my community.”

“I am really interested in supporting young people, and my career aspirations revolve around equitable access for youth to resources they need for success, like education or mentorship,” said Friedman. “My work as a fellow lends itself to supporting youth and I hope to continue this work after my fellowship.”

RCWJRF and CMF hope that the network of fellows across the state emerge as leaders of the philanthropic sector. The collective support of diverse talent in philanthropy is a guiding principle for the program for both organizations, and for CMF’s existing fellowship partnerships with the Skillman Foundation and the Hudson-Webber Foundation, so that these collaborative efforts will prepare those taking the helm in the coming years.

Want more?

Get to know these fellows on the CMF website:

Learn more about the Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation.


Member Spotlight: HCCF Hosts 13th Annual Hillsdale County College Fair

The Hillsdale County Community Foundation’s 13th annual Hillsdale County College Fair took place October 14, 2019, at the Margot V. Biermann Athletic Center on the campus of Hillsdale College.

The event included 36 colleges and universities from the tri-state area and representatives from the armed forces, I Challenge U, the Health Department and CHBW and County National Bank provided financial and loan information.

Students from the Hillsdale County area had the opportunity to speak with and receive information from the attending representatives and was the first opportunity for those interested in scholarships administered by the Foundation to receive the 2020 Scholarship Book and application information. The Scholarship Book outlines all available scholarships and eligibility requirements. The Foundation currently holds over 120 scholarship funds from which students can apply for assistance. In 2019, the Foundation awarded scholarships valued at $214,130 to area students to assist with their educational endeavors.

Along with the Foundation, this event was sponsored by CHBW & Co., Gem Asset Management, Hillsdale College, and County National Bank.

The deadline for scholarship applications is March 2nd. More information is also available online at www.abouthccf.org.

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