Reference to a current Michigan bill or law that relates in some way to your proposal:
Senate Bill 918 (California), Homeless Youth Act of 2018
This bill creates an Office of Homeless Youth in California, which delineates specific goals to end youth homelessness including an Office of Homeless Youth.
Why this proposal will make a difference in the lives of students of all ages across Michigan, or a significant subgroup (by age, background, economic status, and/or region, etc.) of students in Michigan: There are about 40,000 homeless youth in the state of Michigan. All the children endure unimaginable amounts of emotional, physical, and mental stress. There are higher rates of mental illness, substance abuse, and suicide amongst this group of homeless youth. 40% of this population consists of LGBTQ youth, which have even higher rates of suicide, mental illness, substance abuse, and much discrimination. They are homeless for different reasons, the number one reason being family strife. These children are in need of support from all areas of life including social support groups, counselors, access to healthcare providers, housing, and other basic needs. Non-profits, such as the Ozone House, have proven to be extremely effective in being a support net for these individuals, in helping connect them to all the services they need and getting back on their feet. An Office of Homeless Youth would be a government-run safe zone for homeless youth, with special services for LGBTQ homeless youth, to aid in communication between shelters and organizations, and help the homeless youth get the services they need.
How and where did you learn about the issues underlying your proposal?
Wouter is from Ann Arbor, and knew about the Ozone House. After further researching the Ozone House, and going for a consultation with the case manager, we discovered the pressing issue of LGBTQ homeless youth in Michigan, and decided to create a solution to the problem.
How has your service activity influenced your thinking about this proposal?
Rachel volunteers at Mott Children’s Hospital on the floor for pediatric oncology/hematology. She spends time with many different kids and their families, of all races, beliefs, socioeconomic status, sexual orientations, and backgrounds. She has observed how the healthcare professionals at Mott seem to be perceptive, caring, and devoted to helping these children, and it made her realize how important this is in the well-being, attitude, and mentality of the patients. From consultations at the Ozone house, she realizes that they also regard patients and residents with this high caliber of care and compassion, and how important this compassion is for every patient. Homeless youth and LGBTQ populations are already at higher risk of depression, mental illness, and other health problems, and they deserve the best care, synonymous with the care at Mott and Ozone House, to be able to live their lives in the best way possible.
Wouter has spent time this semester volunteering at the Neutral Zone where he was able to connect with youth from all backgrounds. During his time volunteering, he learned about the ways that stress can negatively impact the lives of young adolescents which made him acknowledge the importance of stability within the lives of youth particularly within the LGBTQ community. From connections made at the Neutral Zone, Wouter knows the impact that is there to there to be made with youth which has made him significantly more appreciative of the Ozone House and their efforts.
Link to your media artifact(s) giving background on the issue:
Talk directly with at least 3 real live people who have special knowledge about this topic or the impact your proposal would have, and summarize their comments. These may include people appearing in your media artifact (video, podcast, etc.).
CONSULTATION 1: Patrick Gaulier, Case Manager, Ozone House
Patrick Gaulier, a case manager at the Ozone House, discussed the prevalence of youth homelessness within the United States as well as within Washtenaw County. Gaulier provided us with ideas about legislation that needed inclusion of the LGBT community such as the Elliott-Larsen Act, and the Runaway Youth Act. As a case manager, he works directly with connecting homeless youth to resources such as housing and job opportunities. In addition, Gaulier runs a weekly workshop for the LGBTQ youth called the “pride zone” which is open only to members of the LGBTQ community. During our interview he detailed the process of how he connects the youth at the Ozone House towards full rehabilitation. Gaulier delineated some struggles that the Ozone House has encountered such as budgetary constraints due to the strictness of government funding, which restricts the scope of initiatives in which they can invest.
During our second interview with Gaulier, he discussed his experience in communication issues with other homeless shelters in the region. In particular, about two youth homeless shelters in Detroit unexpectedly closed down this past year. Gaulier claims that he learned about the news in the newspaper a week later, but he would have preferred to have been given notice from the shelter in order to prepare for an influx of homeless youth relocating for shelter. When suggesting ways to budget our proposed Office of Homeless Youth, Gaulier suggested that we can combine resources with foster care programs as much of the money is already used for the same individuals. Gaulier’s experience with the legal system was incredible useful to us while crafting our proposal.
Senator Rebekah Warren, State Senator 18th District
Senator Rebekah Warren of the 18th District of Michigan, benefited our proposal by providing us insight on an opportunity to allocate funding for our endeavor. Senator Warren’s email referred to a $3.7 million increase for the Emergency Shelter Program and suggested that we use some of this funding to be allocated specifically towards funding our proposed Office of Homeless Youth. In addition, Senator Warren provided us further insight into Senate Bill 918, by sending us a link to the fact sheet of the bill which we had not previously seen. Senator Warren also informed us about the bill’s hearing in California’s legislature which will take place on April 10th. Finally she agreed with the importance of supporting LGBT homeless youth and assured us that she has their issues on her mind.
Taylor Yendick is a junior in the nursing school at the University of Michigan. She has performed clinical rotations in many areas of the University of Michigan Hospital and has cared for several homeless patients, including a few homeless youth patients. During Rachel’s interview with her, one particular youth homeless patient stuck out the Yendick. She described a 20 year old male patient who disclosed his frustrations with being unable to find a stable place to stay with her. Yendrick learned that the patient was uninsured and would most likely be a charity care patient, meaning that his care would inevitably fall on the taxpayers. Yendick also noticed that many of the reasons these people were in the hospital were due to preventable ailments. Their hospital visits could have been avoided if they had access to proper nutrition, shelter, and routine visits to healthcare professionals.
Taylor Yendrick provided us valuable information on the medical costs associated with homelessness. This encouraged us to dive deeper into how homeless youth impact their communities and the burden it can create on taxpayers.Prospectus:
Describe the specific issue or problem, being sure to provide sufficient context so that someone less familiar with the issue has a sense of the bigger picture, but know that your focus here is on a more detailed spelling out of the specific problem or issue that you’ve identified. (250 words minimum)
Here is the link to our prospectus.
Describe three reasonable, feasible potential solutions or approaches that would help address this problem.
The Matt Epling Safe School Law is a Michigan law in the state school code, named in honor of Matt Epling who took his own life shortly after his eighth grade year due to bullying. This law includes policy prohibiting bullying , and says that schools should try to prohibit instances of bullying through preventative measures such as annual trainings for teachers and administration and provisions to form bullying prevention task forces. This law helps solidify positive initiatives like “provisions for considering the use of restorative practices in the correction of bullying behavior” and clearly defines different types of bullying and when the school should intervene. Studies show that 82% of LGBTQ youth had problems during the previous year with bullying about their sexual orientation and 64% felt unsafe at school due to sexual orientation. We propose that the “Matt Epling Safe School Law” should include a statement about prohibition of bullying for LGBTQ youth, specifically. School-based bullying prevention programs decrease bullying by up to 25%, which would make a huge positive impact if the rates decreased this significantly in the LGBTQ community. 28% of students in grades 6-12 have experienced bullying, compared with 82% of LGBTQ youth who have reported being bullied. We would like to include the phrase “bullying for LGBTQ students” explicitely in the law and require special education and initiatives to limit the rates of bullying for these students.
The Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act is an anti discrimination law that prevents discrimination in employment, housing, education, and access to public accommodations. The issue with this bill is that it applies to discriminations based on religion, race, color, national origin, age, sex, height, weight, familial status, or marital status. However, the Elliott-Larsen act does not protect members of the LGBT community from discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. In specific terms, employers can refuse to hire or fire people, landlords can deny housing opportunities, and businesses can refuse to give service based on an individual’s sexual orientation or gender (Michigan Department of Civil Rights Report on LGBT Inclusion, 2013). According to Patrick Gaulier, a case manager of the Ozone House, 66.2% of LGBT students felt discriminated against in school due to their sexual orientation within the state of Michigan. Discrimination at any level is an issue that should be addressed which is we why we propose an amendment to the Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act to include the terms “sexual orientation as well as “gender identity” as characteristics to which could not be subject to discrimination. There have been previous attempts to amend this law, Sam Singh proposed including the terms “sexual orientation”, “gender expression” and “gender identity” in 2014, however his attempt did not make it past the Michigan House Commerce Committee. With 40% of homeless youth being part of the LGBT community, the time for immediate action is now.
Office of Homeless Youth Creation
In today’s age, there is an “an epidemic of homelessness among LGBTQ youth” all throughout the US. In California, significant funds were recently approved for LGBTQ shelters in response to an “alarming rise of youth homelessness in the state”. Senate Bill 918, introduced by Senator Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco) and Blanca E. Rubio (D-Baldwin Park), would create an Office of Homeless Youth to help create goals to end youth homelessness. The legislation would allocate $60 million towards these LGBT shelters. The initiative of SB918 would help to get young people off the streets and provide comprehensive housing services to them, as “line of defense” and a protection source from this terrible situation. Michigan would benefit immensely from legislation similar to what was done in California. Within the state of Michigan there are 38,000 LGBT individuals living on the streets. They are not just lacking shelter, they are also very vulnerable and may have issues of high stress, depression, anxiety and low self esteem. These kids could benefit immensely from a well-known, comfortable and easy to contact and enter, central office, in which they would know that some people in their state have their best interest in mind. This would provide them with just a little for security and peace of mind, and make it easier to be connected to shelters and special services.
With the creation of additional shelters, and an office responsible for preventing and supporting homelessness within the LGBT community, we would expect to see lower rates of youth homelessness in addition to a more productive Michigan economy.
Reaction or advice from a Topic Coordinator:
You must solicit a critique from a topic coordinator, and explain the impact that advice has had on the final draft of this proposal.
We received valuable feedback from the topic coordinator, Justin Schulman. He reassured us in that going about a possible solution to help LGBTQ homelessness in this legislative manner coupled with increasing resources for homeless youth was beneficial. He also pushed us away from the Elliott-Larsen, after we expressed concerns that grew from a town hall workshop with Rebecca DeVooght. We decided to choose the solution to open an Office for Homeless Youth, and he helped us think about the best ways to make this initiative have a lasting and widespread impact. We came into roadblocks when contacting individuals involved in legislation for our consultations. Justin was very resourceful and helped guide us through this process. He helped us craft emails to Michigan state legislators and California state legislators with inquiries about our possible solutions and experience with/ reactions to the opening of an Office for Homeless Youth with special programs and initiatives for LGBTQ homeless youth.Research process:
Describe your research process — indicate who you talked to (including but not limited to consultants), what you read, what your thinking was, how it changed over time, and how your consultants changed your thinking. This description of your research process definitely could include “dead ends,” or ideas you had that didn’t ultimately bear fruit. In short, we want to know what you did and how it led to your legislation, and we also want you to give us a window into your thought process.
Initially, when deciding on a topic for the media artifact, we decided on the Ozone House, as Wouter is from Ann Arbor and had previously heard about the organization. When we scheduled a meeting with Patrick Gaulier, a case manager, to learn about the Ozone House, we were shocked to learn about the prevalence of youth homelessness and how disportionately it affected members of the LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender) community. We found Patrick Gaulier to be extremely resourceful, experienced, and knowledgeable on this topic, and he compelled us both to delve further into the topic. Gaulier addressed how he leads PrideZone, which meets weekly, and is a space designated to being a space space for LGBTQ homeless youth to be able to be themselves. After our meeting with Mr. Gaulier, we were determined to create an amendment to the Elliott-Larsen Act. The Elliott-Larsen act is an anti-discrimination bill that makes it unlawful to discriminate based on a plethora of factors including race, sex and economic status. However it does not include discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity which are two issues that the LGBT community regularly face. We planned to propose an amendment to the bill that would include protection of sexual orientation and gender identity from discrimination.
It seemed like we had determined what we wanted to do our proposal to be about, however further research led us to learn that the Elliott-Larsen amendment that we were proposing had already been attempted before in 2014 by Sam Singh. We also learned that the bill did not make it past the Senate Commerce Committee. After a Town Hall with Rebecca DeVooght, who works in the University of Michigan Government Relations Office, we realized that an amendment to the Elliott-Larsen Act would most likely be futile and that it did not bring anything new to the Michigan House of Representatives. It was at this point that our initial idea had hit a dead end and it was time to focus on another idea.
Luckily for us, it didn’t take long to find the new focus of our proposal. In the week prior to the Town Hall with Mrs. DeVooght, Rachel had come across an article about legislation created in California that allocated $60 million dollars towards addressing the alarming rise of homeless youth in California. The bill (Senate Bill 918: Homeless Youth Act of 2018) creates an Office of Homeless Youth that will set goals and map the progress towards the overall goal of ending youth homelessness. When we discussed the idea with Rebecca DeVooght, she was very interested in the idea and encouraged us to pursue this idea. After a meeting with our topic coordinator, Justin Schulman, we had formatted emails and prepared phone calls to get more information about this bill. We made seven phone calls and sent out a dozen emails to local representatives and senators in an attempt to get comments or feedback about our proposal. We were luckily able to get in contact with Senator Rebekah Warren, who provided valuable information on how the bill was funded in California and possible ways for this bill to get funding in Michigan.
We were able to meet with Patrick Gaulier of the Ozone House one final time. We showed Gaulier the progress since our previous meeting and he was delighted to hear about our idea. Gaulier provided us more resources to look into to find sources of funding. In addition, he highlighted how this bill can benefit organizations such as the Ozone House particularly with providing an opportunity for shelters to have a voice in the government. Gaulier also discussed the difficulty the Ozone House has with communicating with other shelters and how an Office of Homeless Youth would facilitate that communication.
Finally, through volunteering at the University of Michigan Hospital, Rachel was able to meet with Taylor Yendick, who is a junior nursing student at the University of Michigan. She asked about her experiences with homeless patients and feelings towards supporting youth shelters. Yendick provided us with inside information about experiences of homeless people at the hospital. In addition to our consultations, there was an immense amount of research done online. In fact, we were able to gather the majority of our data from reputable online sources and government websites that provided us quantitative data on the impact of youth homelessness.
Please delineate--in detail--who made what contributions to the process and to the finished proposal? Who took on which responsibilities in researching ideas, drafting language, etc.?
The contributions to the proposal have been nearly identical. We both did the entirety of the Media Artifact together, which included research and preparing questions for a consultation at the Ozone House together. We did all the work while we were together, and found it easy and enjoyable to bounce ideas off of each other. After an incredible interview with Patrick Gaulier of the Ozone House, we decided to work together on a proposal about youth homelessness.
The prospectus was another example of work that we did completely together. We were both able to meet in person twice to complete the assignment. The research and writing aspects were divided evenly and we were able to bounce ideas off each other and collaborate together to complete the assignment. The 3 solutions assignment was the first work that we did not complete while we were together. We each had to do one solution by ourselves and then met in person to finish the last one. We each did our own research and writing for the solution that we assigned ourselves. It is not by chance however that the solution for which we worked together became the solution that ended up being our proposal. It really highlights the collaborative environment that we thrived in.
The proposal process took place, for the most part, while we were together in person. We both attended the Town Hall meeting with Rebecca DeVooght, and were able to receive her feedback and discuss our concerns after the session with each other. Rachel was able to write a script for the phone calls and gather the phone numbers and email addresses of Senators and organizations that we wanted to call. Wouter worked on formatting the emails and led most of the phone calls. Once again, we were able to collaborate with each other and completed these tasks while we were together. We also met with Patrick Gaulier of the Ozone House together the second time as well and separately created a list of questions to ask. Rachel completed the third consultation by herself as she was interview someone who she knew, Taylor Yendick, from her volunteer experience at the hospital.
For the majority of the writing, we used Google Docs to collaborate on aspects of the proposal. We were both very busy over the past few weeks and had difficulty finding times to meet in person. We decided to complete each section together, rather than divide the work and work individually. We would routinely collaborate together online over Google Docs when we were not able to meet in person. Overall, the process was very well split and we both feel like we worked together well and provided equal and strong contribution towards the proposal.
The sections below should comprise your final proposal language, submitted for consideration by your peers and potential inclusion in the MSC Platform.Preambulatory clauses
These set up the PROBLEM, but not the solution.
WHEREAS....There are 1300 youth in Washtenaw County experiencing homelessness or housing instability
WHEREAS.... Approximately 40% of homeless youth are LGBTQ+ and 60% of those youth make a suicide attempt
WHEREAS.... There is no centralized agency to communicate between homeless shelters
(Add more "Whereas" clauses if necessary.)Operative clauses
These describe in detail, the solution you are proposing (not the problem itself; those should go in the "Whereas" clauses above).
THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED....
1. An Office of Homeless Youth should be established. This office would have specific resources for homeless youth including life-coaching mechanisms, emotional help, and support to gaining independence. It would connect homeless youth with mental health-care, along with translational housing services, education and employment assistance, and family support. This office would be a centralized entity for Michigan, organized with the powerful purposes of homeless youth prevention and support for homeless youth including medical professionals, counselors, social workers, and any other health care provider that is needed. It would also be used to initially connect the youth with shelters or places to stay, and periodically monitor their progress when reconnected back into the school system or work force.
2. As part of the Office for Homeless Youth, there needs to be an aspect of their services that cater to homeless youth from the LGBT community specifically as there are a disproportionate amount of LGBT youth who are homeless. We believe that within the Office of Homeless Youth there should be designated counselors and case managers who work exclusively with LGBT individuals as causes for homeless might be different for LGBT youth. In fact, 25% of homeless LGBT youth were kicked out based on their gender identity and sexual orientation. In addition we propose implementing social support groups implemented by the office which would be open to LGBT individuals between the ages of 13-20. We intend to model the Ozone House of Ann Arbor’s PrideZone, whose social support program for LGBT youth has already demonstrated its effectiveness.
3. A new communication system is required. Shelters would be required to create an organized log indicating what resources they have and what resources they need. There are numerous homeless shelters all throughout the state of Michigan; however, there is a lack of effective communication between these shelters. Shelters that are undergoing financial constraints are not always able to communicate their needs, and it prevents effective management of resources for the homeless population on a statewide level. Shelters are not required to communicate what resources they have or what resources they may need to each other, which results in a lack of constructive knowledge for each shelter to reach its potential quality and quantity of residents. An Office for Homeless Youth would be a centralized power to mandate communication between these shelters and lead to the best distribution of finances, resources, and advice for the most efficient, yet impactful ways to run youth homeless shelters.
(Add more "Resolved" clauses if necessary.)Counter-arguments:
What are three reasonable arguments against this proposal?.
1. Some individuals may believe that LGBTQ individuals do not deserve special protection because they can be helped with initiatives already in place for homeless youth. In addition, the LGBTQ population makes up a very small proportion of the population therefore they do not need their own initiatives. There are already programs in place to help homeless youth, including LGBTQ homeless youth.
However: 3-5% of the general population is LGBTQ, while 40% of homeless youth identify with the LGBTQ population. LGBTQ youth experience homelessness at an extremely disproportionate rate. Family conflict is the main factor for youth homelessness, and this remains strong amongst LGBTQ individuals. 50% of LGBTQ youth report negative reactions when coming out to family members, and 26% report being kicked out of their homes. The presence of professional physical and psychological support can greatly influence the stability of these individuals and help them navigate the world as a LGBTQ individual. Additionally, being able to connect with other LGBTQ indiviudals in their situation, who understand and empathize with their concerns is therapeutic and beneficial to the health of these individuals. An Office for Homeless Youth would have the capability to connect these individuals to services necessary for life and to help them cope with their dynamic needs and overall health in order to have the strategies and support to get back on their feet and cope throughout life.
2. It is not worth the cost to taxpayers
However: There were 1,061 unaccompanied homeless youth within Michigan in 2012 according to the Michigan Coalition Against Homelessness. According to YouthLink, who conducted a study in Minnesota, for every youth homeless at age 20, the state loses $35,790 in combined fiscal and social costs. There is a critical period between the ages of 17-24 years of age where youth who are still homeless after this period will most likely be homeless forever. Further cost analysis conduct by YouthLink in 2011 showed that individuals in long term homelessness cost the state an average of $170,740 in fiscal costs and $529,030 in social costs over their lifetime. The cost of implementing a homeless youth office, the details which are discussed below, will be able to pay for itself it the long term. The Office of Homeless Youth will reduce homelessness therefore decreasing the financial burden on taxpayers who are inevitably funding the health care and shelter costs. In addition the Office of Homeless Youth will bring economic benefits to local economies in Michigan as there will be more available employees who will also be able to provide their own housing, health care and food costs.
3. There is no need to seperate the homeless youth from the homeless adults
However: Youth have different needs than adults. Homeless youth need specialized treatment like counselors specializing in the psychology of youth and adolescents. Youth homeless shelters provide a strong emphasis on rehabilitation, which under the right leadership from the Office of Homeless Youth, would allow many youth who have experienced homelessness in their lives an opportunity to become independent and self-sufficient. For many homeless youth, particularly with LGBT homeless youth, substance abuse and mental illness are common. Regarding the LGBT community, counseling and family therapy might be indicated to resolve tensions, as family tension can be a common reason for homelessness. An Office of Homeless youth would be able to facilitate family intervention in better ways than would be possible for a typical homeless shelter.Costs and funding:
What will your proposal cost (in direct expenses, lost tax revenue, lost economic opportunity, and/or non-monetary costs)? How will you pay for your proposed legislation? Where will/could the funding for your proposal come from? Who might object to dedicating resources to your proposal (competing interests)?
In California, Senate Bill 918 received $60 million in grants from increased tax revenue from the Cannabis tax. There are an estimated 200,000 homeless youth in California which considerably more than the amount in Michigan where there are 38,000 homeless youth. Since there are only approximately 20% the amount of youth in need, we propose that we would need only 20% of California’s budget or roughly $12 million. There are many opportunities to receive funding for this proposed bill. First, Governor Snyder's FY 2018 budget recommendation for the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services includes a 3.7 increase towards Emergency Shelter Programs. We proposed that $3 million should be placed towards an Office of Homeless Youth instead. In addition, we propose that funding from Child Foster services should be placed towards this office, as we believe that this Office can help reduce the costs of Foster Care as they would have less individuals technically identified as needing foster care, if homeless youth were grouped into a separate category.
Similarly to what is undergoing in California, we propose that this Office of Homeless Youth can receive some funds from the pending taxation of medical marijuana sales. A small sum of the revenue could be used to support the rest of the funding need for the maintenance of an Office of Homeless Youth. It is important to mention that the annual funding needed for this office should decrease over time as the first few years would require the most funding. As a reminder, the cost of the office will pay back itself over the long run as more homeless youth will be able to secure the resources they need and eventually become stable adults that will provide additional tax revenue to the state and will not be reliant on the government for help.References:
These can include websites or other information you have found about the issue.