Thanksgiving is a Little More Costly This Year

A traditional 10-person Thanksgiving dinner will cost the chef, on average, $64.05 total, or about $6.41 per person. This cost is up 20 percent from last year. Of the key ingredients for Thanksgiving dinner cubed stuffing has experienced the largest percent increase in cost. In 2022 it cost, on average, $3.88 for 14 ounces of cubed stuffing; this is a 70 percent increase in cost from 2021. Pie shells and whipping cream had the second highest percent increase in cost 2021 and 2022 at 26 percent.

The main ingredient for Thanksgiving is obviously turkey, and for 2021 a 16-pound turkey, on
average, costs $28.96, which is about a 20 percent increase from 2021. The only item on the traditional Thanksgiving dinner list to decrease in cost from 2021 is fresh cranberries. Twelve ounces of fresh cranberries cost $2.57 this year, a decrease of 14 percent.

The information provided in this post from the American Farm Bureau Federation.

Deer Numbers in Michigan Continue to Grow

Deer season is open in Michigan once again, and this year it is estimated that there are more deer and fewer hunters. According to the Michigan Department of Natural Resources there are about 2 million deer in Michigan currently (2022), and 10 years ago the deer population was estimated to be about 300,000. And, as the number of deer have increased the number of deer hunting licenses in Michigan have decreased, yet the number off deer-vehicle crashes have increased.

Beginning with hunting license data, the number of hunting licenses issued in the State of Michigan has been declining for several years, at least. According to the Michigan Department of Natural Resources, there were 732,163 hunting licenses issued in 2017 and by 2021 that number declined to 641,588. For 2022, 460,436 hunting licenses has been issued as of Oct. 31, 2022.

According to a 2021 MLive article, two reasons for the decline in hunting is that both access and time is dwindling. In other words, people are growing too busy to spend time to hunt and hunting locations are declining for some too.

So, with the decline in deer hunters there has been an increase in Michigan’s deer population and an in deer-vehicle traffic accidents. In 2021, there were 52,218 deer-vehicle traffic accidents, with the greatest number of accidents happening in November, according to Michigan Traffic Crash Facts. In general, there were more crashes in the winter months when the days are shorter and when rutting season (essentially mating season occurs). Since 2011, 2019 was when there was the greatest number of deer-vehicle accidents at 55,531.

Furthermore, in 2021, of the seven counties in Southeastern Michigan, Oakland County had the highest number of accidents at 1,853. It should be noted, Oakland County also has a higher population than all the other counties except Wayne County. However, Wayne County reported 511 deer-vehicle accidents in 2021. Wayne County also has more densely populated areas.

Not only have deer-vehicle traffic crashes increased overtime, but an increase in deer populations can also damage an ecosystem as the deer can decimate certain plant species (for food), including those in residents’ yards. Concentrated deer populations are also more suspectable to disease. So, the increased visibility of deer, along with the issues they can bring, has brough about outcries from local communities for area leaders to find a fix. In Southfield, voters approved an advisory measure to reduce the city’s deer herd by human, lethal manners. This advisory deer culling measure received 62 percent of the vote in the Nov. 8, 2022 election. Other communities that have taken action to reduce its population include Ann Arbor and Grosse Ile.

The Southeast Michigan Council of Governments also has taken interest in the region’s growing deer population and its impact on residents, traffic and land management. It recently created a survey asking area how communities several questions regarding their experiences with deer in their communities and what their concerns about deer are. The survey is now closed, but SEMCOG leaders are hoping its results will help lead to additional solutions to the area deer problem.

Point in Time Count Shows Homelessness in SE Michigan Declining…Is that Really the Case?

Funding into social service resources are slowly dwindling, and the number of those without permanent shelter may be growing. Throughout Southeastern Michigan, we know that the demand for food at local food pantries/non-profit organizations is increasing (read our recent post about that here), and, so is the need for both temporary and permanent housing, according to area homeless shelters.

Over the last few years we have experienced a global pandemic, and in reaction the federal government distributed one-time funds and approved moratoriums on policies (evictions, water shut offs and more) to help boost social services and protect some of our most vulnerable populations. As the veil of the pandemic continues to lift so are many of protections put in place to help our vulnerable populations (or funding is declining).

According to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), an individual is defined as homeless if they lack a fixed, regular, and adequate nighttime residence and their primary nighttime residence is not meant for human habitation, such as under bridges or in vehicles.

The Point In Time Count is a count of people who are experiencing homelessness on one night in January. It provides a snapshot on the homeless population in an area, but it is by no means all encompassing. While the count is unable to account for every person experiencing homelessness, it also differs on the type of homeless population that is accounted for in each area. For the eight different areas examined in the chart below only three looked at the homeless population that was only sheltered on the night of the count (Detroit, Macomb and Oakland counties); three counted the population that was both sheltered and partially unsheltered (Wayne, Genesee and Washtenaw counties); two counted the homeless population that was both sheltered and fully unsheltered (Monroe and Livingston counties).

The data for the Point In Time Counts is collected by volunteers who collect information from emergency shelters, transitional housing and safe havens. There is also an attempt to collect data on the unsheltered population, but this can be more difficult as it generally involves volunteers traveling to places where people experiencing homelessness are expected to be (under bridges, encampments, etc). 

The data below is the Point In Time Counts for the Southeastern Michigan; however data for St. Clair County could not be immediately found but data for Genesee County was included instead.

The City of Detroit has consistently had the highest documented population since at least 2015, according to the Point In Time Count. However, since 2015 the sheltered number of homeless has declined from 2,597 to 1,293 in 2021. None of the other areas in the region had homeless numbers as high as Detroit. In 2021 the area with the second highest documented number was the Pontiac/Royal Oak/Oakland County region with a sheltered only population count of 333. However, in 2021 it is believed the homeless population was closer to at least  1,228, according to data obtained from the Alliance for Housing Oakland County. According to the Point In Time Count data, the Oakland County homeless numbers have also declined.

Overall, according to the Point in Time Count data, each area examined in this blog post has had a decline in its homeless population between 2015 and 2021. Between 2020 and 2021 each area, except Macomb and Livingston counties, experienced a decline. Macomb County had a 79 person increase in its Point In Time County between 2015 and 2021 and Livingston County had a 30 person increase.

The Point In Time Count helps determine the amount of funding distributed to each community to help combat homelessness. In general, it is difficult to gain a fully accurate count because the homeless population because individuals may find temporary housing on-and-off through friends, families, shelters and vehicles and these individuals can be mobile from one place to the next. But even a snapshot count is vital to help fund programs to alleviate the cycle of homelessness, a cycle that may increase as inflation grows.

The only emergency housing shelter in Livingston County recently shuttered. According to a Michigan Radio news article, the Severe Weather Network Livingston County Homeless Shelter closed due to lack of funds and volunteers and the head of the Michigan Coalition Against Housing fears this won’t be an isolated incident. To alleviate the current homelessness issue, and the larger issue at hand, Eric Hufnagel, head of the Michigan Coalition Against Homelessness suggest public-private partnerships that will create affordable housing, allowing more individuals to permanently get out of the homelessness cycle.
The Michigan Campaign to End Homelessness also sees public-private partnerships and the development of more affordable housing as one means to ends homelessness, according to its Three-Year Action Plan to End Homelessness. The four main strategies of this foundation are to

•Increase access to affordable and attainable housing for all Michiganders experiencing homelessness.
•Use cross-sector collaboration to impact the other Social Determinants of Health that lead to housing insecurity.
•Enhance the homeless service delivery system to better serve those in need.
•Increase prevention and diversion efforts to mitigate the risk of becoming homeless.

As with many solutions, the “fix” to homelessness is multi-faceted.