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About the WHA

Our Mission:

The mission of the Washtenaw Housing Alliance is to end homelessness in our community.


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 even to minimize homelessness, must be designed with these root causes in mind.

In order to end homelessness, it is imperative that all members of the community, individuals, institutions, and government participate in the effort.  The Washtenaw Housing Alliance models this community partnership by consisting of a wide range of organizations dedicated to helping people who are homeless and those who are in danger of losing their housing.  We will work to fulfill our mission through collaboration and partnerships that address root causes of homelessness, and by making needed systemic changes that will sustain over time.

Our Vision

Every person who is homeless or at risk of homelessness will be provided with alternatives for shelter, housing and services, including those who are vulnerable and difficult to serve.

Helping persons who are homeless must 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

Our Guiding Principles

Respect:  Members of the Housing Alliance affirm that we respect the individual needs and choices of people who are homeless.  We will promote self-determination and autonomy.

Non-Discrimination and Inclusion:  Services will be delivered without discrimination on the basis of race, gender, age, income, culture, religion, ethnicity, height, weight, class, marital status, sexual orientation, family configuration, HIV/AIDS status, physical or developmental disability, ability to speak English, immigrant status, military status, or history of mental illness, and addiction.

Accessibility and Cultural Competence:  Services will be designed and delivered in a manner that is accessible and acceptable to people who are disadvantaged or marginalized.  We will make positive, affirmative efforts to serve and reach disenfranchised populations, and we will become more culturally competent in order to reach and serve all persons in need.

Multiple Strategies:  We affirm that no one strategy can help all individuals and families who are homeless or in danger of becoming homeless, and we will embrace a multiplicity of ways in which to help them.

Active Outreach:  We recognize that innovative, transformative, persistent and long-term efforts are necessary to help persons who are chronically homeless and have been labeled “difficult to reach.”  In this spirit, and in the spirit of accessibility, we pledge to go where people who are homeless are, and not to wait passively for them to come to us.

Commitment to Permanent Housing:  Our ultimate goal is the development and management of affordable, permanent, and supportive housing.  Financial resources must be allocated with this in mind, without jeopardizing funding for essential emergency shelter and transitional housing programs.

Expertise:  We recognize that people who are homeless are often the best experts on their own situation and we pledge to include their ideas and expertise in our work.

Advocacy:  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.

Continuous Learning:  We know we must always be in the process of learning.  We must educate ourselves on the social and economic causes of homelessness and strategies to help individuals and families that are homeless.  This includes a commitment to obtain the best training for those who work with people who are homeless.