Thousands of low-income people depend on government systems and programs to help meet their most basic needs. This means that government policies affect whether these families have enough food to eat, medicine to treat medical conditions, heat and water in their homes, and quality care for children and the elderly. These systems and rules can be very confusing, even for people who work with them all the time.
When someone contacts us about a problem they are having with one of these systems, we look at the reasons for the problem. We ask whether the problem is caused by a policy, procedure or system that could also affect other people. Our lawyers and policy analysts focus their advocacy efforts on issues where we can make a difference for many people at once.
Here are some of the ways we use systemic advocacy to make a difference for low-income people:
- Review and Comment - We review proposed and final statewide policies and procedures. We make sure these policies follow state and federal law. If they don't, we bring our concerns to elected and agency officials. We also file comments in rule-making proceedings.
- Propose Constructive Alternatives - When we learn that many people are confused about issues or we hear that there are recurring mistakes, we may propose revisions to notices, policies, or procedures. We identify specific problems and propose solutions like new language or models. We urge officials to use options that can help more eligible people access help and also reduce the burden on government systems.
- Enforce the Law - If a policy or practice violates the law and we cannot correct it through informal means, we may file suit to enforce the law. Our litigation is usually filed as a class action which means it may affect thousands of people in Michigan.