Michigan’s visionary new housing subsidy program harnesses the proven community revitalization power of immigrants

On October 23, 2023, the Michigan Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity (LEO)’s Office of Global Michigan launched the Newcomer Rental Subsidy program.

This visionary program aims to boost immigrant-based community economic revitalization, which is one of the most reliable “cures” for shrinking cities, as documented in the 2020 book, RECONOMICS: The Path To Resilient Prosperity.

The Newcomer Rental Subsidy program will provide temporary support for refugees and other newcomer populations coming to the state, thanks to support from the Michigan State Housing Development Authority‘s (MSHDA) Housing and Community Development Fund and the Office of Global Michigan’s investment of federal Office of Refugee Resettlement funding.

We are thrilled to couple funding from MSHDA together with our Office of Global Michigan’s efforts to support one common goal – making Michigan a place where all people, businesses and communities ​have the economic means and personal freedoms to reach their full potential,” said Susan Corbin, LEO director, and MSHDA Board chair.

Affordable housing is a critical need for newly arriving refugees and for local community partners and sponsors who provide resettlement support.

The subsidy program will give refugees, asylees and other newcomer populations the opportunity to apply for rental subsidy assistance, to help families successfully integrate into communities, become self-sufficient and thrive.

The Newcomer Rental Subsidy program will increase access to better and more affordable housing opportunities while supporting a more rapid social integration for refugees and other newcomer populations in Michigan,” said Poppy Hernandez, Office of Global Michigan director.

Global Michigan is committed to providing support that builds welcoming, inclusive communities for those who choose our state as their new home,” she added.

The program provides refugees and other newcomer population-eligible households with monthly rental assistance for up to 12 months, with eligibility heavily based on immigration status and household income.

The amount of financial support per eligible household will range from $300 to $500 per month depending on household size.

Beneficiaries must be enrolled in an OGM-funded or equivalent employment placement program, if not already employed. Households’ eligibility will be evaluated periodically to determine continuation of assistance under the program.

During evaluations, the beneficiaries will also receive financial and budget education to ensure continuity of rent once the program ends.

The program will be financed in part through the Michigan Housing and Community Development Fund, administered by MSHDA, with $4 million designated to the Office of Global Michigan to manage over a two-year period.

In alignment with the Statewide Housing Plan, one of MSHDA’s key priorities is increasing access to safe and affordable housing for everyone,” said Amy Hovey, MSHDA executive director.

This program addresses the most pressing barrier to refugee resettlement, housing need, and sets up families for success with increased employment and opportunity,” she concluded.

The program is also supported in part by federal award number SLFRP0127, awarded to the state of Michigan by the U.S. Department of the Treasury and in part by the Office of Global Michigan through allocation of federal Office of Refugee Resettlement awards.

Photo (by Storm Cunningham) shows a restaurant in Detroit’s revitalized Mexicantown neighborhood, which is enjoying a lasting rebirth thanks to (primarily Mexican) immigrants.

Learn more about the Newcomer Rental Subsidy program here.

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