Current Advocacy Opportunities
Advocacy is one of our many guiding principles. As such, we affirm that direct services to the homeless will include advocacy, and that the work of the Washtenaw Housing Alliance will include changing institutional policies and practices, training of professionals, policy and legislative change, educating funders, and raising hell when necessary.
Local Advocacy Opportunities
Contact Ann Arbor City Council Members about the “Y Lot”
Email City of Ann Arbor Council Members TODAY and encourage them to vote in favor of re-purchasing the Y Lot, when the matter is expected to be discussed at their Monday, April 16 City Council meeting. At the April 2 City Council meeting, only 7 Council members indicated they were in favor of re-purchasing the Y Lot; 8 votes are needed. Anne Bannister (Ward 1), Sumi Kailasapathy (Ward 1), and Jack Eaton (Ward 4) voted against repurchasing the lot; Jane Lumm (Ward 2) was not in attendance. We need just one of these Council members to vote in favor of re-purchasing the site!
- Under the original purchase agreement, the City will re-purchase the Lot for $4.2 million, about $1 million less than what the City sold it for originally. It is estimated the property is now worth $10 million, if it were developed, so re-gaining control of the site is a fiscally-responsible decision.
- Re-purchasing the property, which has sat vacant for years, will give the City control over how the property is developed in the future. If the City re-sold the land, the money could be used for whatever use the community deems appropriate, such as the City’s Affordable Housing Fund. The City could also require (or incentivize) that a new development include affordable housing on the Y Lot itself.
To email all City Council members and the Mayor: use this link.
To email an individual City Council member, find their contact info here
Find out which Ward you live in here
Click here for WHA's background document, which has more information about the site and the advocacy issue.
Support Ozone House’s Plans to Consolidate Services in the City of Ypsilanti
WHA member-agency Ozone House is planning to consolidate their Ann Arbor facilities to a single site in the City of Ypsilanti, at 1600 N. Huron River Drive, the northwest corner of Huron River Drive and Superior. This consolidation would include administrative offices, emergency shelter, supportive housing, medical support, and potentially job training and education to youth up to age 24. The Ozone Housing drop-in center will remain at its location in downtown Ypsilanti.
The property is currently owned by the City of Ypsilanti, and Ozone House is under contract to purchase it. Ozone House is seeking a rezoning of the site to Planned Unit Development (PUD). The Planning Commission reviewed and recommended approval of the site plan and proposed zoning change to PUD at their March 12 meeting. To review the Planning Commission staff report and site plan, use this link.
A public hearing and consideration of the proposal will be on the Tuesday, April 17, 2018 Ypsilanti City Council agenda. Individuals, and organization representatives, are welcome to attend and speak at the public hearing (7pm at 1 S. Huron Street - Ypsilanti), but can also send comments in advance to Bonnie Wessler at email@example.com. WHA encourages our member-organizations, and individual advocates, to submit a written comment via email in support of Ozone’s project. Any e-mailed comments are shared with City Council prior to the meeting and become part of the public record.
Register for the Housing Advocates Training on May 9-10
Fair Housing Center of Southeast & Mid Michigan is offering a comprehensive two-day training on Welfare Policy and Housing Advocacy on May 9-10 in Ypsilanti. Trainers include staff and attorneys from the Fair Housing Center of Southeast & Mid Michigan, the Michigan Poverty Law Program, and Legal Services of South Central Michigan. Day one is a full day of training; day two is an optional three-hour session. Registration is required and rates increase after Friday, April 27. View the registration form for more details.
Housing Advocates Training (HAT) is designed to help social service professionals gain a working knowledge of fair housing law, landlord/tenant law, and housing subsidy programs. The Welfare Policy Seminar (WPS) is a three-hour training that focuses on the Department of Human Services' most popular programs, including cash assistance, food assistance, state disability assistance, and Medicaid.
Take the Fair Housing Center's Welcome in My Backyard ("WIMBY") Pledge to let local policymakers and the public know that you value living in an open, inclusive, and diverse community and that you welcome all people from all walks of life into your neighborhood.
State Advocacy Opportunities
Consider supporting the following state-level funding increases, as part of the Governor’s proposed budget for FY 2018, to programs that support people experiencing homelessness:
A $3.7 million increase for DHHHS Emergency Shelter Program (ESP); shelter reimbursement would go from $12 a day to $16 a day
- Increase of $150 million for Department of Education for students who are identified as “at-risk”.
Federal Advocacy Opportunities
The proposed federal budget for FY 2018 was released at the end of May and it includes deep cuts to many safety net programs that help low-income families across the country access food, healthcare, housing, and more. Learn more about the federal budget cuts here.
Overall, the President is requesting $7.4 billion in cuts to HUD, a 15% reduction from 2017 funding levels. According to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP), the budget would "increase homelessness and hardship in every state" by raising rents for nearly 4 million low-income households currently receive federal assistance, cutting funding for public housing and Homeless Assistance Grants, and eliminating various programs that provide flexible funding to poor urban and rural communities.
According to CBPP, in the State of Michigan alone, an estimated 125,200 low-income households - including 90,300 children - would be impacted by the rent increases, placing them in jeopardy of losing their homes if they are unable to pay.
Take Action TODAY to Oppose Federal Budget Cuts to HUD, by:
- Signing and Sharing this Letter to Congress on behalf of yourself and/or the organization you represent asking Congress to pass a fair 2018 budget that protects the policies and programs people rely on;
Joining the Hands Off Campaign, a national campaign dedicated to preventing cuts to basic living programs such as affordable housing, Medicaid, disability, benefits, nutrition assistance, and environmental protections;
Calling and emailing members of Congress asking them to reject the President’s budget cuts and increase funding for McKinney-Vento;
Urging Congress to increase funding for affordable housing by lifting spending caps for affordable housing, community development, and transportation programs receive the highest allocation of discretionary funds possible; and
Asking Congress to protect and expand the National Housing Trust Fund that helps build and preserve housing that is affordable for people with the lowest incomes.
Other Advocacy Resources:
National Low-Income Housing Coalition (NLIHC): Advocacy Webinar Mon, Mar 20, 2017 4:00 PM - 5:00 PM EDT (Register: https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/712995188908614659)
National Alliance to End Homelessness (NAEH): http://cqrcengage.com/naeh/funding
- Michigan Coalition Against Homelessness (MCAH): www.mihomeless.org