Michigan's cities have dealt with the issue of poverty for years. Recently, however, there have been drastic increases in the amount of people living below the poverty level in Michigan's cities. In 2007, 33.8 percent of Detroit residents lived below the poverty level, while 14 percent of Michigan residents did. The poverty is defined as $20,650 for a family of four.
Three of Michigan's major cities recently found themselves high on the list of poorest cities throughout the country in 2007. With over 33 percent of Detroiters living in poverty, Detroit was titled the poorest large city in the nation. Flint and Kalamazoo were also placed high on the list, which each city having a 35.5 percent poverty rate.
Childhood poverty is also a problem in Michigan's cities. Detroit, in particular, has a 43.9 percent child poverty rate, while Michigan overall has a 19.4 percent rate.
Michigan has taken several steps to deal with the high poverty levels seen in its major cities. The 21st Century Jobs Fund was created to diversify the economy and create more jobs. The $4000 Michigan Promise as well as the Kalamazoo Promise are efforts being made to ensure all children have the opportunity to go to college, and have the chance to receive an education. Michigan also adopted the earned income tax credit and increased minimum wage with the hope of putting more money into the hands of Michigan's working families.
Several organizations have directed their attention at poverty situation. Michigan 211, for example, is part of the Michigan Association of United Ways that works with hard hit communities to promote self reliance, civic engagement, and provide information on health and human services. Another program that has been set up is the Good Neighborhoods Program. Through the Skillman Foundation, this program encourages the creation of safe, healthy, vibrant neighborhoods. Several communities throughout the state have also started other programs aimed at assisting poverty stricken areas.
Michigan has also started the Campaign to End Homelessness. It is a collective effort by the State of Michigan and 60 local groups that are attempting to rapidly re-house individuals and families that are homeless, while providing them with other critical services.
Through these programs and organizations, Michigan hopes to reduce its poverties levels in the cities, and throughout the state. However, with Michigan having the highest unemployment rate in the nation, a struggling manufacturing industry, as well as a nation wide economic downturn, it faces several obstacles in lowering its poverty levels.
"Detroit is Poorest City in US" Detroit Free Press.
State of Michigan-Governor's Office
Campaign to End Homelessness
Michigan 211-Michigan Association of United Ways
Good Neighborhoods Program