Michigan sees 4th-highest increase in poverty in the nation

Dec 21, 2011

Michigan had the second-highest drop in median income in the nation over the past four years.

It also had the fourth-highest increase in family poverty.

That’s according to the Michigan League for Human Services.

President Gilda Jacobs says homelessness is increasing --  in part because rental costs have gone up more than 25 percent over the past decade.

Jacobs says the average rent for a two-bedroom apartment is now about $745 -- out of reach for many Michigan residents.

"In order for somebody to be able to afford this fair-market rent, a household has to earn just under $30,000 annually, or just under $2,500 a month," Jacobs says. "That's a lot of money."

Jacobs says child homelessness rose 40 percent between 2009 and 2010.

The state this year cut food, cash and clothing assistance programs, as well as the length of state unemployment benefits.

Jacobs says the poor economy has reached well beyond low- and middle-income residents. She points to Oakland County – one of the richest areas in the nation.

"Everybody has a story now about relatives or a neighbor, somebody they know well, who is recently unemployed -- who is really falling into a situation where they can't make their mortgage payments," she says. "They're losing their homes. They're food insecure."

Jacobs says one quarter of the state’s population received some sort of help in 2011.