Safety net

About 1 in 5 children in Michigan live in poverty. Bridge will explore the reasons behind this disturbing result and the ideas to address it.

Along Michigan’s back roads, thousands of homeless children

Brenda Greenhoe scours abandoned garages and backwoods lots in rural counties, bringing adrift children to school.

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A charter school for the rural poor closes

Is it better to keep low-income students together despite poor test scores? Or do they benefit from learning alongside middle-class children?

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Help Bridge chronicle the challenges facing rural Michigan

Rural communities face a tsunami of modern ills, from fading economies to children who can’t wait to leave. You can help Bridge document the hardship (and joy) of rural life.

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Free speech goes begging in Grand Rapids

Across Michigan, communities are trying to craft restrictions on panhandling that don’t run afoul of First Amendment protections.

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A day on the streets with a young panhandler

The story behind one man’s sign.

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Down and out in Lake County

Lake County competes for the unwanted title of Michigan’s poorest county. Like many rural areas across the state, Lake residents endure higher poverty, serious health and social ills, and little hope for the future.

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Living poor, in a county of wealth

Being poor is tough anywhere. But wanting for basics in Livingston County, the state’s most affluent, carries a different kind of sting.

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Despite congressional muscle, Michigan ranks near bottom in funding for veterans

Michigan’s congressional delegation controls some powerful defense and intelligence committees. So why does our state rank among the nation’s worst in money paid to veterans?

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Self-medicating homeless vets not seeking help they need

Military veterans are more likely to “self-medicate” for pain, both physical and otherwise, leading to a surge in homelessness.

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Suburban poverty continues to grow in Michigan

Jesus fed the multitude, and Denise Amenta is prepared to do the same on this December day, as a raggedy man slips into the St. Mark Parish food pantry in Warren, two minutes before closing time. She asks his name, tells him […]

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Can fancy finance fund fights against social ills?

A new method of financing government programs such as early childhood education and prison reforms is generating a near giddiness among states and philanthropists eager to participate. Social impact bonds allow foundations and private-sector investors to participate in funding programs aimed at […]

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Michigan philanthropists have a ‘sense of urgency’ on education

The Council of Michigan Foundations is the nation’s largest regional association of grantmakers, representing 350 foundations and other grantmaking organizations in the state. Foundations are playing an increasingly prominent role in Michigan as state and local government budgets that support for communities, […]

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A new PATH for Michigan workers gains friends and foes

Demita Burnett admits she made some poor decisions in her young life that ultimately led her to seek welfare assistance in January. The 26-year-old Saginaw resident, a single mother of a 5-year-old son, had few job skills, no transportation and not even […]

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Survey says old Michigan jobs training program worked

Former Gov. Jennifer Granholm’s No Worker Left Behind program was a wildly ambitious effort to retrain more than 100,000 laid-off or low-income workers for new jobs as the state’s manufacturing base imploded. Although the $500 million program faced criticism for its effectiveness during […]

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In Michigan, a full-time job is no guarantee of good housing

The line began growing overnight, hundreds of low-income suburban Detroit residents hoping to secure one of 1,000 available subsidized housing vouchers. It stretched to more than a mile long and an estimated 5,000 people when doors to the Taylor Community Services Center […]

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How high is rent in six Michigan cities?

Finance guidelines say housing should not cost more than 30 percent of household income. But in 2013, thousands of Michigan rental households fall below that standard.   Michigan Two-bedroom fair market rental: $768 Hourly wages needed to afford two-bedroom fair market rental: […]

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Warehouse lofts in Grand Rapids fill fast due to affordable housing program

For years, the massive century-old brick furniture warehouse stood vacant in Grand Rapids as one developer after another took a pass. Thanks to a federal tax credit program, Baker Lofts opened for business earlier this year and is filled with dozens of […]

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Why are Michigan’s child abuse/neglect rates so high?

The number of abused and neglected Michigan children rose in recent years, during a period when state spending on abuse and neglect prevention plummeted. The state’s rate of abuse and neglect, below the national average as recently as 2006, is now more […]

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