MAY 2022

U.S. Households in Better Shape Financially at End of 2021 than Pre-Pandemic
Poverty Solutions researchers have tracked levels of material hardship, which refers to households’ ability to afford basic necessities, throughout the pandemic. The most recent policy brief found U.S. households were in a better financial position, on average, at the end of 2021 than in 2019, despite widespread joblessness and economic uncertainty during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Researchers attribute this financial stability to the unprecedented, cash-based safety net response by the federal government during the pandemic, which included expanded unemployment insurance, a series of economic impact payments (also known as stimulus checks), and monthly payments to families with children through the expanded Child Tax Credit. However, early data from 2022 suggest the expiration of COVID-19 safety net policies may negatively impact the financial well-being of families in the year ahead.
See the Press Release

Majority of Detroiters Report Stable, Improved Financial Situation Two Years into Pandemic
Similar to the national trend in material hardship levels, the most recent survey from U-M's Detroit Metro Area Communities Study found 72% of Detroit residents report their financial situation has stabilized or improved compared to a year ago.

There’s evidence that stimulus checks and the expanded Child Tax Credit played a role in reducing Detroiters’ experiences of economic hardship. 
See the Press Release
New Research
Detroit Community Health Workers attend a training.
American Journal of Public Health article: Poverty Solutions-funded study finds Detroit Community Health Workers have positive impact
Emergency care and costs went down, while outpatient care went up, among Detroit residents with low incomes who connected with a Community Health Worker. Learn more.
Poverty Solutions staff lead a community meeting on land contracts in Detroit in July 2021.
Detroit land contracts research receives grant from Brookings-Ashoka
Enterprise Community Partners, in partnership with Poverty Solutions, is continuing research that reimagines the use of land contracts in Detroit as a tool to advance racial equity in homeownership. The project was recently awarded funding from the Valuing Homes in Black Communities challenge by Brookings and Ashoka. 
Upcoming & Recent Events
COVID-19: Reflecting on Race, Health, and Economic Justice
U-M's Center for Racial Justice, Poverty Solutions, and the National Center for Institutional Diversity are co-hosting a three-part virtual symposium that will bring together a diverse group of changemakers to (1) meditate on the past and current racial dynamics of COVID-19 in Michigan and Detroit and (2) to discuss the policies, programs, and practices that have successfully responded to the needs of communities of color sidelined by the pandemic.

The final part of the symposium is June 10 with Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, the vice president and chief health equity officer at CVS Health and former chief medical executive for the State of Michigan, in conversation with Celeste Watkins-Hayes, faculty director of the Center for Racial Justice at U-M. Together, they will reflect on the two-year anniversary of the COVID-19 pandemic and discuss the key lessons learned from Michigan's Coronavirus Task Force on Racial Disparities. Learn more.

Catch up on the most recent event from the symposium below.
Two Years Later: Reflecting on the National Response to COVID-19's Racial Disparities
Featuring Dr. Cameron Webb, senior policy advisor for equity on the White House COVID-19 Response Team who previously was an assistant professor of medicine and public health sciences and director of health policy and equity at the University of Virginia School of Medicine, in conversation with Luke Shaefer, director of Poverty Solutions, the Hermann and Amalie Kohn Professor of Social Justice and Social Policy, professor of social work, and associate dean for research and policy engagement at U-M's Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy. 
In the News
Photo of Natasha Pilkauskas
Poverty Solutions faculty affiliate Natasha Pilkauskas commented on how affluence pulls people away from their families. She noted the rate of multigenerational living is considerably lower in the United Kingdom than in the U.S. — which she suspects is a reflection, in part, of the U.K.’s public-housing availability, paid parental leave, and subsidized child care.

The Atlantic
Poverty Solutions ran a survey, in partnership with Propel, of more than 3,000 parents with low incomes, and found that nearly a third of families making less than $500 a month hadn’t received any of the expanded Child Tax Credit money.

The New Yorker
"The social safety net in the form of the economic impact payments and the monthly Child Tax Credit contributed so much to us bouncing back from this pandemic," said Samiul Jubaed, data and policy analyst at Poverty Solutions.

Michigan Radio Stateside
Nearly 8,500 owner-occupied homes in Detroit are “inadequate or severely inadequate,” a report by Poverty Solutions revealed. Mainly targeting low-income Black homeowners in Detroit, three organizations are providing $20 million in funding to help residents with much-needed home repairs. 

Black Enterprise
Photo of Patrick Cooney
Patrick Cooney, assistant director of policy impact at Poverty Solutions, said guaranteed income experiments have shown increasing evidence that the programs reduce hardships for families, be it financial, housing or food-related.

Baltimore Sun
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Poverty Solutions is a newsletter produced by Poverty Solutions at the University of Michigan, which aims to find and test new and innovative solutions for the prevention and alleviation of poverty. If you have any questions about Poverty Solutions, contact us at
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