DBusiness Daily Update: HUD Awards Michigan $151M to Increase Affordable Housing, Fortune Honors Rocket Cos. and Plante Moran, and More

Our roundup of the latest news from metro Detroit and Michigan businesses as well as announcements from government agencies, including updates about the COVID-19 pandemic. To share a business or nonprofit story, please send us a message.
map of Michigan coronavirus cases by county
Courtesy of Bridge, as of April 10

Our roundup of the latest news from metro Detroit and Michigan businesses as well as announcements from government agencies, including updates about the COVID-19 pandemic. To share a business or nonprofit story, please send us a message.

HUD Awards Michigan $151M to Increase Affordable Housing
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development has awarded nearly $151 million across Michigan, part of a $5 billion national investment to increase affordable housing and address homelessness.

The supplemental funding is allocated through the HOME Investment Partnerships Program to 651 grantees, including states, insular areas, and local governments.

“Homelessness in the United States was increasing even before COVID-19, and we know the pandemic has only made the crisis worse,” says Marcia L. Fudge, secretary of HUD. “HUD’s swift allocation of this $5 billion in American Rescue Plan funding reflects our commitment to addressing homelessness as a priority. With this strong funding, communities across the country will have the resources needed to give homes to the people who have had to endure the COVID-19 pandemic without one.”

The $4.925 billion in HOME-ARP funding gives states the flexibility to best meet the needs of people experiencing or at risk of experiencing homelessness, including through development of affordable housing, tenant-based rental assistance, supportive services, and acquisition and development of non-congregate shelter units. Funds must be spent by 2030.

The nearly $5 billion in HOME-ARP funding is the first of two homelessness-related funding opportunities from the American Rescue Plan that HUD will release. In the coming weeks, HUD will announce the allocation of funding for emergency vouchers for people experiencing and at-risk of homelessness.

Rocket Cos. and Plante Moran Among Fortune’s 100 Best Companies to Work For
Rocket Cos. in Detroit and Plante Moran in Southfield have been named to Fortune magazine’s list of “100 Best Companies to Work For.”

Rocket Cos. checks in at No. 5 and has been in the top 30 for 18 consecutive years. Plante Moran made the list at No. 91. It has been part of the list for 23 straight years.

“Everything we do is framed by our culture and by our ISMs (core company values),” says Jay Farner, CEO and vice chairman of Rocket Cos. “Over the past year, we have been guided by the ISM ‘We’ll Figure it Out’ as we navigated the challenges introduced by the pandemic while still creating the best possible experience for our team members.

“When COVID-19 began spreading across the country in the U.S., we rapidly launched measures to promote the health and safety of our team members, clients and communities. Because we took care of our people and made sure they had everything they needed to support our clients, we experienced record growth in 2020 – even as the vast majority of us worked from home.”

Jim Proppe, managing partner at Plante Moran, says, “The past year has been like no other, and we’re particularly pleased with how we’ve met the challenges and continued to support our staff and partners in a work-from-home environment.”

Both companies, it was noted, reacted positively to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Rocket Cos. transitioned 98 percent of team members to work remotely in early March 2020 and purchased nearly $15 million in equipment over the course of the pandemic to ensure all teams could effectively collaborate in a virtual setting. Throughout the year, the company continued hiring individuals from a variety of backgrounds, including some who were unemployed because of the effect COVID-19 had on the economy. All hiring, onboarding, and training was done virtually, and Rocket Cos. mailed computers and any additional needed technology to new team members.

The assistance from the organization went beyond its own people and extended into the local communities as well. The Rocket Community Fund, the philanthropic arm of the company, along with the Gilbert Family Foundation, a nonprofit established by Rocket Cos. founder Dan Gilbert and his wife, Jennifer, donated more than $10 million to local non-profits to address the impact of COVID-19 on local residents.

“We consider ourselves a ‘for-more-than-profit’ company,” says Farner. “This means we are guided by the philosophy of investing some of our successes into the communities around us. We are proud to use our skills and resources to improve the lives of our neighbors.”

To address pandemic-related challenges, Plante Moran created its Work from Home Remedies Program, which is built around four pillars: technology, flexibility, recharging, and finances. The program includes enhanced scheduling flexibility to assist staff who are caring for others, financial support of up to $2,000 in reimbursement for continuous learning and dependent care, $600 for home-office upgrades in addition to company-provided technology, free meal deliveries, and reimbursement for at-home gym equipment.

Plante Moran has shown additional commitment to its staff during the pandemic by avoiding furloughs and supporting working parents through its flexible time-off policy and scheduling alternatives that allow caregivers to temporarily reduce work hours without sacrificing their career prospects.

“Plante Moran was founded on the belief that the whole person comes to work,” says Proppe. “We’re intentional about providing a culture where people come first and where ‘work-life balance’ isn’t just a catchphrase but is embedded in everything we do. This is how we’re able to attract the best professionals in the business and help them stay in the workforce during challenging times.”

Michigan Orthopaedic Surgeons Empower Patients to Self-schedule Appointments Online
Patients of Michigan Orthopaedic Surgeons, a group of nearly 50 orthopaedic and musculoskeletal surgeons and specialists, now can book and control their appointments online 24/7.

MOS has partnered with Radix Health, a health care solution provider, to launch the DASHself platform that allows patients to search and choose a physician that meets their needs and schedule an appointment with just a few clicks. MOS is the first orthopedic group with this self-scheduling capability in the region.

Through the DASHself portal, located on the MOS homepage, patients can schedule appointments without having to dial a phone or create another online username and password.  Patients also have easy access to provider information, physician specialties and background, office location, and appointment type — such as virtual or in-office. Patients can make changes or cancel at any time.

Appointment availability is displayed in real-time without blocking time for online appointments that may never be filled, creating more availability options for patients. The online scheduling software also allows scheduling staff to assist more people on the phone, resulting in shorter wait times.

“We wanted to create a patient-centered digital front door that gives our patients the freedom to choose their own physicians and appointments,” says Dr. Paul Fortin, president of MOS. “Scheduling is the gatekeeper to the entire practice. Relying solely on phone calls creates a risk of losing patients if there are long wait times. Self-scheduling improves customer service and helps reduce a loss of physician productivity due to ‘no show’ appointments.”

Michigan Orthopaedic Surgeons was formed in 2017 and has expanded to seven locations, including four rehabilitation centers in Beverly Hills, Bingham Farms, Royal Oak, and Southfield. In addition, MOS performs outpatient surgeries at UnaSource Surgery Center in Troy, Beaumont Troy, Beaumont Royal Oak, and Surgeons Choice Medical Center in Southfield.

For more information, visit here.

National Cherry Festival Planning 95th Edition of Event
The National Cherry Festival in Traverse City, set to take place July 3-10, is planning a full slate of virtual and in-person activities for the 95th edition of the event.

“We recognize that not everyone is ready to gather in crowds yet, so we will be hosting in- person, virtual, and hybrid events to meet everyone where they are,” says Kat Paye, executive director of the National Cherry Festival. “And every in-person event will be following state and local guidelines to ensure the safety of all involved.”

The Porch Parade, which debuted last year, will return. Events like the Arts and Crafts Fair, and the Old Town Car Show will be back in a separate more socially distanced location. The National Cherry Festival also will continue to be the site for Ultimate Air Dogs and The Great American Duck Race. F&M Park will conduct events for kids.

Due to safety regulations The Bayside Music Stage, and the airshow featuring the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds will be unable to take place in 2021.

For more information, an updated event calendar, and COVID-19 event protocols, visit here.

Study: Fruits, Veggies Could Help Young Adults Improve Sleep
Increasing consumption of fruits and vegetables could help young adults sleep better, especially young women, according to a new study from the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor.

Young adults who reported consuming fewer than five servings of fruits and vegetables per day reported a high prevalence of chronic insomnia symptoms, with more than one-third reporting difficulties falling asleep or maintaining sleep at least three times per week for three months or longer.

Women who were able to increase their fruit and vegetable intake by three or more servings over a three-month period were more than twice as likely to experience an improvement in these insomnia symptoms, according to the study published in the Sleep Health Journal.

“We were very excited to see that a fairly simple dietary intervention, such as encouraging an increase in fruit and vegetable consumption, could make such an impact on sleep,” says Erica Jansen, lead author of the study and research assistant professor of nutritional sciences at U-M’s School of Public Health. “We know from other literature that improving sleep improves overall quality of life and many other health outcomes, so the benefits likely extend beyond the sleep changes.”

Jansen and senior author Gwen Alexander, a researcher in the Department of Public Health Sciences at Henry Ford Health System, and colleagues analyzed data of more than 1,400 participants compiled by Detroit-based Henry Ford and the more rural Geisinger Health System headquartered in Danville, Penn.

“From my health educator perspective, our study shows a link between dietary choices and improved sleep for young people who wish to improve their overall health and well-being,” Alexander says. “Our study was unique in that it investigated an understudied population of generally healthy young adults. Future research designed for this population has great potential to lead to better health habits.”

Eligible young adults included those ages 21-30, who received any medical care at the centers and who reported eating less than five servings of fruits and vegetables per day. Participants were randomized into one of three groups: one had an untailored web-based program to encourage higher fruits and vegetables consumption; the second had an age-targeted tailored web-based program; and the third group also included personalized e-coaching support.

Young adults who increased their fruit and vegetable consumption by at least three servings experienced modest improvements in sleep latency (time to fall asleep) and insomnia over a three-month period, compared to participants with no change or smaller increases in fruits and vegetable intake, although there were no differences in sleep duration.

Women who increased their fruit and vegetable intake by three or more servings reported a four-minute shorter time, on average, to fall asleep at follow-up, and twofold higher odds of improvement in insomnia symptoms.

“What is unique about our study is that we were able to see that as fruit and vegetable intake changed, insomnia-related sleep characteristics also changed,” Jansen says. “We still cannot rule out that sleep characteristics changed first, which in turn caused a change in fruit and vegetable intake, but since the participants were part of a trial to increase fruit and vegetable intake, it is more likely the other way around. The participants were not told to change anything about their sleep habits.”

The researchers hope the findings will be incorporated into other sleep hygiene principles, which include things like maintaining a consistent bedtime and rise time, eliminating screens prior to going to bed, sleeping in a dark, cool environment, and not consuming caffeine or alcohol before bed.

In addition to Jansen and Alexander, authors included Ruicong She of Henry Ford Health System and Margaret Rukstalis of the University of South Carolina School of Medicine.

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