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"Michigan League for Human Services"

September/October 1995 issue of Poverty & Race

In 1991, the State of Michigan eliminated its General Assistance (GA) program, the only safety-net program for single individuals and childless couples who are poor and under 65. In 1993, the Michigan League for Human Services published The Impact on Individuals and Communities of the Reductions in Social Services in Michigan in 1991-1992 (available from MLHS, May 1993, 56 pp., $10). The PRRACsupported study found that the elimination of the GA program further eroded an already decimated economic base in the state's urban communities. The research also uncovered the inability of the labor market to absorb former GA recipients, resulting in subsequent increases in homelessness and hunger.

Initially, the report was used by MLHS in broad advocacy efforts to educate communities about the potential negative effect of welfare reforms, and to prevent further reduction in the state's welfare assistance programs. In February 1993, MLHS testimony before the Connecticut state legislature on Michigan's experience after eliminating GA and its impact on the poor helped to discourage lawmakers there from making similar cuts at that time. Since publication of the report, and particularly since the November 1994 elections, the research has provided important background information to state, national and international media and policy-makers.

Thus far, the report has been requested by the National Conference of State Legislatures, the Office of Management: and Budget, two Congressional offices and state legislators' offices in numerous states. In addition, MLHS has provided commentary to the McNeil Lehrer News Hour, as well as Canadian, German and British broadcast media.

MLHS continues to use the research to provide technical assistance to other advocacy groups across the country, including strategic analysis of how to address welfare reform initiatives and how to develop effective campaigns to counter GA cuts.

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