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Michigan Coalition Against Homelessness has COVID-19 asks for Whitmer

Max Johnston
Interlochen Public Radio

The Michigan Coalition Against Homelessness (MCAH) is asking Gov. Gretchen Whitmer for policy changes during the COVID-19 pandemic.

In a letter signed by over 80 homelessness organizations in Michigan, the MCAH asked for funding for temporary housing and longer bans on evictions and foreclosures, among several other proposals.

"MCAH and the undersigned agencies believe that these actions, when combined with the tireless work done by the individuals on the front lines of this pandemic, will have a direct and positive impact on mitigating COVID-19 in Michigan," the letter reads.

The letter includes other ideas like exempting the unsheltered from the governor's 'stay at home' order and giving more health and sanitation supplies to outreach organizations.

Eric Hufnagel with the coalition says people experiencing homelessness are at a higher risk during the pandemic.

"Those who are homeless, they are more likely to require critical care and more likely to die," Hufnagel said.

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer signed the 'stay at home' order last week and is slated to last until April 13. The order made no mention of the unsheltered or people experiencing homelessness, which confused some local organizations.

"We are reviewing and exploring options to help the most vulnerable Michiganders during the COVID-19 pandemic," Whitmer spokeswoman Tiffany Brown said.

This story was updated at 9:54 a.m. on 04/01/20.

Max came to IPR in 2017 as an environmental intern. In 2018, he returned to the station as a reporter and quickly took on leadership roles as Interim News Director and eventually Assignment Editor. Before joining IPR, Max worked as a news director and reporter at Michigan State University's student radio station WDBM. In 2018, he reported on a Title IX dispute with MSU in his story "Prompt, Thorough and Impartial." His work has also been heard on Michigan Radio, WDBM and WKAR in East Lansing and NPR.