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A statewide push to reduce homelessness appears to be working, especially among homeless veterans. 

Kelly Rose with the Michigan State Housing Development Authority says overall homelessness in the first half of 2015 is down about 10% compared to the same period last year.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

This Week in Michigan Politics, Michigan Radio’s senior news analyst Jack Lessenberry and Morning Edition host Christina Shockley discuss Donald Trump's latest trip to Michigan, a sex scandal, and a plan to end homelessness.

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Updated: 8/12/15, 2:51 pm

I'll admit I thought it was a bit crazy, when I heard that some places in Michigan had pledged to end veteran and chronic homelessness by 2016.   

Zero: 2016 is a national campaign that urges communities to reduce veteran homelessness to virtually zero by the end of 2015, and reduce chronic homelessness to virtually zero by the end of 2016. 

Washtenaw, Oakland, and Genessee counties and the city of Detroit joined the campaign in January. 

Washtenaw and Oakland counties are getting close to the goal.

Annie Green Springs / http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

Now that the city of Detroit has put bankruptcy in the rear-view mirror, it is able to start tackling its deepest problems.

One of those is getting all of the agencies that help the homeless on the same page and working to help homeless people in the city’s neighborhoods as well as downtown.

Viviana Pernot

You might have heard of Camp Take Notice, the tent city in Ann Arbor that was forced to close nearly three years ago.

Viviana Pernot has made a short documentary film about that homeless community and the non-profit group that helps them.

Kymberly Janisch / Flickr Creative Commons

Homelessness continues to be a big problem in Michigan. But the state is making progress, according to a report recently released by the Michigan Interagency Council on Homelessness.

The report says more than 97,000 Michigan residents experienced homelessness in 2014.

user anonymonous / Flickr

  The most recent count of Washtenaw County's homeless population through the Point in Time Count showed a 24 percent decrease in the number of people on the streets and in shelters since 2013. 

Below is a graph of the change in the homeless population of Washtenaw over the last three Point in Time Counts. 

Paige Pfleger / Michigan Radio

People will be hitting the streets Wednesday to count the number of homeless individuals in Washtenaw County. 

The count is a part of the Point in Time census that is conducted every other year and documents the sheltered and unsheltered homeless people in the area. 

This year's count is especially important, because the county only has one year to end veteran homelessness to meet it's goal as a part of the national Zero:2016 Campaign. 

One organization in Michigan is working to raise awareness about homelessness in the state.
Ed Yourdan / flickr.com

Cold weather is here and that means an extra-challenging time for the homeless.

Melissa Golpe is with Covenant House Michigan. It's an organization that helps thousands of homeless kids in the Detroit area.

This Thursday night, they've invited business leaders to spend one night on the streets to raise money and feel what it's like to have no place to go as the temperature drops.

Golpe joined us today with 22-year old Steven Brown - a resident at Covenant House. 

Listen to our conversation with them below:

Homeless man
SamPac / creative commons

This week we aired a special State of Opportunity call-in program focused on disconnected youth. These are young people between the ages of 16 and 25, they're not in school and they're not working either.

Homeless man
SamPac / creative commons

When you see people who are homeless, especially young people, it can be easy to make assumptions about their lives. At least that’s what Robert Sporny says.

And he says your assumptions about homeless youth are probably wrong. As a baby, he was adopted, and his childhood with his adopted family was difficult. 

There was alcoholism and abuse in the family. On the last day of high school, at age 17, Sporny decided to permanently leave the situation.

“And I got on my bicycle and basically rode all the way across town to a friend’s house," Sporny said.

Veronica Riddle ran away from home as a teenager. She wants people to know that spending time and talking with troubled youth can be a big deal. Here's why.

SamPac / creative commons

Advocates for the homeless say getting a state identification card is much too complicated. There are many people who are homeless and are in need. They want to get their lives together, but need legal ID. Without it, they can't get a job, medical help, or housing.

But there can be many obstacles to overcome in order to get a state ID: You need a birth certificate, Social Security card, high school transcripts, a lease, or other documents that most homeless people just don’t have.

Elizabeth Kelly, executive director of Hope Hospitality and Warming Center in Pontiac, and Greg Markus, the founding organizer of the Detroit Action and Commonwealth, discussed the issue on Stateside.

Kelly says one of the issues homeless people face is that some documents, such as Bridge cards – a state-issued benefits card – or IDs issued by homeless shelters,  aren't accepted by the Michigan Secretary of State as proof of identification.

Greg Markus said the state needs to be more sensitive to the problems of the homeless.

Markus says the Secretary of State will now, after a long battle and lawsuit, accept proof of income during the application process, but he adds this will still exclude those who have no income. 

Kelly said the hurdles are keeping many homeless permanently, and forces some to panhandle or other pursuits in order to provide for themselves.

“How we handle and take care of those in need defines us,” Kelly said. “As a society, this is something that cannot be tolerated.”

*Listen to full interview above.

– Bre’Anna Tinsley, Michigan Radio Newsroom.

The Justice Department is investigating General Motors for delaying a recall of more than a million and a half cars. On today's show: how is this recall affecting GM's reputation?

And, a new Michigan law will now allow you to literally BYOB, bring you own bottle of wine to a restaurant.

Also, starting a business can be hard, but what about starting a business with a mission to help end homelessness? That's exactly what the Empowerment Plan aims to do. 

First on the show, Rick Pluta, Captiol Bureau Chief for the Michigan Public Radio Network and co-host of It's Just Politics, joined us to talk about how Lansing plans to spend surplus money.

Mercedes Mejia

Starting a business can be hard. How about starting a business with a mission to help end homelessness? Well, that’s even harder.

Stateside’s Mercedes Mejia tells us about the Empowerment Plan. It’s a business with a social mission.  The company makes coats that double as sleeping bags, and gives them away to homeless people.

After nearly two years, its mission is the same. But its business model is evolving.

Annie Green Springs / http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

It's called "Mission A2" – short for Michigan Itinerant Shelter System Interdependent  Out of Necessity. This Ann Arbor-based nonprofit is dedicated to building links between homeless and what it calls "homeful" Washtenaw County residents. One of its key activities has been running a series of rotating tent cities for the homeless.

But now, Mission A2 is taking things to a new level. They're partnering to buy land and build a permanent settlement called Homeward Bound, a place for Ann Arbor's homeless to begin the process of rebuilding confidence and their lives.

Homeless camp
Nicole Salow / Flickr

The number of K-12 students in the U.S. without a home is on the rise.

More than 1.1 million children in the U.S. were homeless in the 2011-2012 school year, according to the Department of Education.

Suzi Parker at takepart.com looked at the numbers and found that Michigan has one of the fastest-growing homeless student populations in the country.

In Michigan, 43,418 students were homeless in the 2011-2012 school year, compared to 30,671 in the 2010-2011 school year:

Lisa Beth Anderson

A non-profit group in Grand Rapids is re-energizing its effort to get people who are homeless into permanent homes.

Well House has been around since the late 1970s. About a year ago, the non-profit emergency homeless shelter Well House was in danger of closing. That’s when its new executive director Tami VandenBerg pushed the group to switch gears and provide permanent homes instead.

User Roymundo VII / Flickr

An apartment building on the northwest side of Detroit re-opened on Thursday to provide housing to homeless people.

Cass Community Social Services spearheaded the project to renovate the Arthur Antisdel Apartments on Woodrow Wilson.

Executive Director Faith Fowler says the building attracted crime when it was vacant. She says it will now provide permanent housing for 41 people.

"It saves a building that was worth saving and puts it to good purpose." she said.

Video: homeless Michigan veteran gets a makeover

Nov 10, 2013

This video chronicling the makeover of a Michigan homeless veteran has been viewed millions of times online.

The nearly three-minute video featuring Jim Wolf of Grand Rapids has gotten more than 5 million clicks on YouTube as of Saturday.

The time-lapse video was produced by community event organizer Rob Bliss with support from a nonprofit group helping homeless veterans.