WSJ: 28 percent of Wayne County homes are worth less than their mortgage balance

The Wall Street Journal recently posted an interactive map that shows the percentage of homes in counties across the nation that were worth less than what was owed on them during the first quarter of 2015. Here, we see that in Wayne County 28 percent of homes were worth less than the mortgage balance on them. In Oakland County that number was 13 percent and in Macomb County 17 percent of homes were worth less than what is owed on them.

More than 50 percent of Wayne County children on Medicaid

Medicaid and MI Child are two different programs that provide children in the state of Michigan with the opportunity to have health care coverage. Medicaid is a federal health care coverage program that provides services to about 43 million children nationally; it is jointly funded by the federal government and each state. In Michigan, a child is automatically referred to the Healthy Kids Medicaid Program (Michigan’s child Medicaid program) if their family’s annual income is at or below 150 percent of the Federal Poverty Level, according to the Michigan Department of Community Health.

MI Child is Michigan’s version of the Child Health Insurance Program (CHIP), a federal initiative created by Congress in 1997 that is offered to uninsured children, ages 19 and below, of working parents. This program is also jointly funded by the federal government and states but its match rate, according to Medicaid.gov is typically about 15 percent higher than Medicaid; according to the Michigan League for Public Policy funding for this program is currently at risk. According to the Michigan League for Public Policy, this program was created to provide children with quality healthcare when their family earns too much to qualify for Medicaid but cannot afford private coverage. To qualify for MI Child, the child must have no comprehensive health insurance and the parents must have a gross adjusted income between 160-212 percent of the Federal Poverty Level, according to the MI Child Manual. For a family of four to be eligible for MI Child, the annual income limit is $47,700, according to the Michigan Department of Community Health.

In the maps below we see that there is a higher percentage of children covered by Medicaid in Southeastern Michigan than on MI Child. Also, while Wayne County had the highest percentage of children on Medicaid, Macomb County had the highest percentage of children with MI Child as their health insurance coverage plan. Overall though, each county had a higher percentage of children with Medicaid coverage than with MI Child coverage. This means that among those who applied for government health care coverage for their child, there was a higher percentage of families with income levels at or below 160 percent of the Federal Poverty Level than families with a gross income level between 160-212 percent of the Federal Poverty Level.

In the seven county region of Southeast Michigan, Wayne County had the highest percentage of children with Medicaid coverage in 2013, according to the Michigan League for Public Policy. In total, 55.5 percent of children aged 19 and under in Wayne County received Medicaid coverage in 2013. This amounted to about 258,000 children. The county with the second highest percentage of children receiving Medicaid coverage in the region in 2013 was St. Clair (42 percent or approximately 16,250 children).

Livingston County had the lowest percentage of children receiving Medicaid coverage with 18.5 percent in 2013. That same year, 40.8 percent of Michigan children received Medicaid coverage.

As noted, MI Child is Michigan’s version of the CHIP initiated by Congress in 1997 to provide healthcare to children who don’t qualify for Medicaid but whose families cannot afford private insurance. In the region, the percentage of children with MI Child coverage is smaller than those with Medicaid. For example, Macomb County had the highest percentage of children with MI Child coverage in the region in 2013 at 2.4 percent. During the same time period, 35.8 percent of Macomb County children received Medicaid coverage. Of the counties examined, Washtenaw County had the lowest percentage of children aged 19 and under receiving MI Child coverage in 2013 at .9 percent.

Opting-Out limits manufacturing employment opportunities for the transit dependent

James Robertson, has been coined Detroit’s “walking man” because of his tenacity in earning a perfect attendance mark at his suburban factory job all while walking nearly 21 miles round trip from Detroit to Rochester Hills. Without a car, Robertson must hobble together a defunct set of bus routes, leaving him no choice but to walk most of the distance into the Detroit suburbs. This story is surely one of many in the Metro-Detroit are, begging the question: Why is the public transit system in the Detroit area far less than mediocre?

Drawing Detroit sets out to illustrate the issue and to discuss how allowing communities to opt out of transit service can limit employment opportunities and create a situation of economic injustice.

Below is a map showing the number of manufacturing employees reported to the 2012 Economic Census of the U.S. Census Bureau in 2012 along with the transit status of communities in Wayne and Oakland counties. Aside from the Detroit Department of Transportation, the only existing transit system that is close being considered somewhat regional is Suburban Mobility Authority for Regional Transit (SMART). SMART has bus lines that run throughout Wayne, Oakland and Macomb counties. In Wayne and Oakland counties municipalities have the option to either opt-in or opt-out supporting SMART, and therefor having it run through their community. In Oakland, the majority of communities-55 percent of 33 of 60- have opted out. In Macomb County, all municipalities support SMART; they do not have the option to opt-out. Because of this, they are irrelevant to the discussion.

Some critics of the Free-Press article on Robertson indicated that there has been little need for low-skill workers in Detroit and other poorer communities to travel into these opt-out communities for employment or otherwise, characterizing these suburbs as bedroom communities with limited job prospects for transit-dependent workers. A quick examination of the map below indicates this is a fallacy. Many manufacturing jobs have moved to the suburbs, following its workforce and also seeking out new facilities and campuses in unsettled areas. Opt-out communities including Oxford Township, Novi and Canton have in excess of 2,000 manufacturing jobs located in their boundaries; Livonia had 9,447 manufacturing jobs in 2012.

In total, 38,461 manufacturing jobs were located in opt-out communities in these two counties, representing 34.1 percent of all manufacturing jobs in the two-county area. Broken down by county, it is 29.6 percent (19,484 manufacturing jobs) of Wayne County’s manufacturing employment and 40.6 percent (18,977 manufacturing jobs) of Oakland’s manufacturing employment.