ADVOCACY AT OZONE HOUSE
Ozone House advocates at the local, state, and federal level for policies and budgets that improve the lives of young people experiencing homelessness and other types of crisis.
Join us for upcoming virtual lobby days to join staff, volunteers and young people as we meet with our state representatives and legislators:
March 4th with the Michigan Network for Youth and Families
March 16th with the Michigan Coalition Against Homelessness
Reduce Barriers to Permanent Housing
From our partners at the Michigan Coalition Against Homelessness:
This year we're encouraging our members to review and submit comments regarding MSHDA policies on HCV eligibility found within the Administrative Plan, and specifically denial of assistance for individuals with drug-related criminal history, current drug use, and other criminal activity (found on pages 3-22 through 3-23 here).
The deadline to submit public comment is Friday, February 26 at 5:00. Public hearing dates are scheduled that day or can be submitted before the deadline.
Below please find information about this process, our recommendations, and resources to help you submit your own comments.
Considerations for your public comments
- MSHDA policies on denials are overly restrictive compared to HUD. Although HUD only requires MSHDA to deny assistance for 5 categories of criminal or drug activity, MSHDA chooses to deny assistance and enforce restrictive policies beyond HUD's requirements. It does not have to do so, and we argue that removing these additional requirements would better support MSDHA's mission to serve the people of Michigan and provide quality housing that is affordable.
- MSHDA policies on drug-related criminal activity within the past 12 months are needlessly exclusive and reject Housing First principles. Housing First principles guide our communities towards serving individuals regardless of their sobriety. This policy is in direct contradiction to MSHDA and our state's commitment to this principle.
- MSHDA policies on criminal activities within the past 24 months unfairly limits the participation for probationers and individuals in alternative programs. MSHDA uses the date of conviction as the beginning of the 24 month period. This instantly denies probationers access to this opportunity even though the date the criminal activity occurred could have been a year or more before the date of conviction. In addition, individuals enrolled in programs that are alternatives to incarceration may return to their communities within 24 months of their criminal activity. This restriction removes them from a valuable housing resource due to the time of their criminal activity regardless of their efforts to return to their communities.
- MSHDA should remove all optional restrictive policies to better support their Housing First principles. MCAH will be submitting a simple recommendation with our comments and encourage you to do the same: MSHDA should follow the example of other PHAs across the country and eliminate all optional policies under section 3-III.C., "Other Permitted Reasons for Denial of Assistance." Instead, the state's largest PHA should only allow denials based on HUD's requirements.
Incorporating your stories and data
- Bring local context to your comments. If possible, submit with your comments data about denial rates or narratives around how clients have been denied housing with their HCV due to MSHDA's policies.
- Encourage individuals to tell their own story. Let MSHDA hear directly from folks involved in this process - the individuals affected by these policies and landlords willing to lease to them. Encourage them to share their stories of denial as well as success they've encountered when they are able to achieve housing.
We do not do this vital work alone, but partner with other non-profits and advocacy groups to ensure that young people have a seat at the table to shape the systems that impact their lives. See our full list of partners here.