The Welfare 101 event that the Michigan Department of Human Services held earlier this week in Saginaw was a huge success. I was surrounded by 23 partners at the SVRC Tuscola Educational Center to dispel myths about welfare.
For example, one myth we busted was: Welfare recipients only live in poorer, urban communities, not the suburbs or more affluent areas of the state.
Here are the facts:
Michigan residents are struggling to put food on their tables and pay their bills in communities statewide. The DHS has seen an unprecedented increase in the number of families seeking temporary assistance, including in Michigan more affluent communities.
Today, it is more likely than ever before that your relative, friend or neighbor is receiving benefits because that pain is being felt everywhere.
Here is a comparison of city-suburb benefit recipients from July 2008 to April 2010:
In Saginaw County:
• Saginaw saw a 33 percent increase in Medicaid recipients – from 27,995 to 37,212; and a 14 percent increase in food assistance benefits – from 31,409 to 35,882.
• Birch Run saw a 31 percent increase in Medicaid recipients – from 994 to 1,304; and a 43 percent increase in food assistance benefits – from 792 to 1,134.
• Frankenmuth saw a 22 percent increase in Medicaid recipients – from 389 to 475; and a 34 percent increase in food assistance benefits – from 202 to 270.
In Genesee County:
• Flint saw a 39 percent increase in Medicaid recipients – from 43,682 to 60,679; and a 12 percent increase in food assistance benefits – from 56,282 to 62,804.
• Flushing saw a 41 percent increase in Medicaid recipients – from 2,213 to 3,129; and a 48 percent increase in food assistance benefits – from 1,741 to 2,575.
• Grand Blanc saw a 56 percent increase in Medicaid recipients from 3,218 to 5,035; and a 72 percent increase in food assistance benefits – from 2,457 to 4,232.
Here is another fact:
There were more than one million foreclosures in Michigan from 2005 to 2009, according to the Michigan State Housing Developmental Authority. The statewide increase was 66.7 percent. For example, from 2005 to 2009:
In Saginaw County, foreclosures increased 51.9 percent – from 2,130 homes to 4,435 homes.
In Genesee County, foreclosures increased 62 percent – from 6,372 homes to 16,784 homes.
In Midland County, foreclosures increased 64.9 percent – from 435 homes to 1,241 homes.
Clearly, welfare recipients live in communities throughout Michigan.
Consider that myth busted.
The Saginaw event was the largest gathering of partners since DHS launched its Welfare 101: busting myths about welfare campaign on April 1 in Lansing. The goal of the campaign is to reduce widespread negative perceptions and show how valuable the welfare system is for so many Michigan residents, as well as to the state’s economy.
The DHS encourages you to do your part to educate the critics. For more information on the truth about welfare, please visit www.michigan.gov/welfare101.