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Homelessness Facts

Homelessness Facts

Yes, there are people in Washtenaw County who are currently without homes.  In 2014, over 4,666 people experienced homelessness. About 38% of those are families with young children.  While you may not see these families, you can trust that they are as deeply impacted by the lack of affordable housing in our community as are single adults. 

The root causes of homelessness are many and varied.  They include:

  • Lack of affordable housing

  • Loss of job/employment or underemployment

  • Family conflict/domestic violence

  • Mental illness

  • Chronic medical problems

  • Substance use disorders

  • Youth aging out of foster care

Each year in January, Washtenaw County joins more than 3,000 cities and countries across the country to participate in a national effort to measure the scale of homelessness in our community. Called the Point In Time Count, or PIT Count, this snapshot reveals the number of people experiencing homelessness in our shelters and on our streets [unsheltered]. You can see our most recent PIT count reports here:

Want to learn more about Homelessness?

Additional research and studies can be found below:

Additional Information and Resources

Housing Costs

The one thing that all people experiencing housing instability have in common is the lack of affordable housing. Washtenaw County has the most expensive housing market in the state of Michigan. In Washtenaw County, the standard cost (Fair Market Rent or FMR) of a two-bedroom apartment is $1,025/month.  According to the most recent National Low-Income Housing Coalition’s report, in order to be able to afford that, a person would need to be earning at least $19.71/hour. If working at minimum wage ($8.90/hour), a person would have to work approximately 89 hours per week (that's over 2 full-time jobs) to afford a two-bedroom apartment.

The root causes of homelessness include:

  • Poverty, including the loss of resources caused by substance abuse, physical illness and mental illness

  • Violence, including domestic and sexual violence usually directed against women and children

  • Racism and other institutionalized prejudices

  • Class privilege and discriminatory patterns of economic and social investment

Any strategies to end or minimize homelessness must be designed with these root causes in mind and should include:

  • Provision of basic necessities, including food, clothing and medical care

  • Development and maintenance of accessible and responsive options for emergency shelter, transitional housing and permanent housing

  • Promotion of individual autonomy through development of education and employment opportunities, debt reduction and credit assistance, literacy programs, transportation and childcare

  • Support services to keep individuals and families in housing

  • Attention to the special needs of children and youth

  • Services to promote safety from violence and abuse