This summer has been busy in terms of advocacy work at the Washtenaw Housing Alliance. There is a lot going on, and we are working hard to stay on top of all that is happening locally here in Ann Arbor and Washtenaw County, while also following the ever-changing landscape at the state and federal levels. Below is a brief update on our recent advocacy activities, as well as some advocacy-related resources we hope will be useful to you.
Local Affordable Housing Victory: County Moves Forward with Selection of Veridian at County Farm for Platt Road Site
At long last the Washtenaw County Board of Commissioners has selected a proposal for the development of Washtenaw County's Platt Road site located at 2270 Platt Road. On August 2, Commissioners voted 8-1 in favor of THRIVE Collaborative’s Veridian at County Farm proposal, a net-zero mixed-income development that will include at least 50 permanent supportive housing (PSH) units - half of which will be for people/families earning less than 30% of the Area Median Income - as well as an innovative mix of other sustainable solutions and amenities, such as solar power, rainwater management, local food production and green space.
The development will include WHA member-agencies Avalon Housing and Habitat for Humanity of Huron Valley as partners. This is an exciting project for the whole County and a great "win" for affordable housing advocates. We congratulate all the development partners and thank the County Commissioners for putting their support behind a project that values both social and environmental sustainability.
During the August 2 Board meeting, Commissioner Felicia Brabec also asked that County staff negotiate with THRIVE Collaborative to include more affordable housing units on the site, and a higher purchase price. We are encouraged by the desire to add more units of affordable housing, and hope the County is able to negotiate with the developer to get the most affordable units possible.
State Advocacy Event: Rally in Lansing to Oppose HUD Cuts
On July 27, affordable housing advocates from across the state, including three WHA staff members, gathered on the Capitol Steps in Lansing, Michigan to voice their opposition to the proposed federal budget cuts to HUD.
The rally, aptly titled "How Housing Changed My Life," featured stories from individuals and families from across Michigan who had experienced homelessness or housing insecurity and had received life-changing assistance from a HUD-funded housing program or service. Several individuals from Washtenaw County spoke about their experiences and the services they received from WHA member agencies Avalon Housing and Michigan Ability Partners. These stories provided a personal, and sometimes emotional, glimpse into the lives of real people who are impacted by the proposed HUD budget cuts.
We hope these stories will help guide the decisions that are made in Lansing and Washington, and we are keeping our eye on what is happening at the state and federal levels. Click here to learn more about our advocacy efforts.
National Conference on Ending Homelessness: Recap and Resources
The National Alliance to End Homelessness (NAEH) hosted its 2017 National Conference on Ending Homelessness and Capitol Hill Day at the end of July. Over 2,000 providers, government leaders, advocates, and consumers, including WHA Executive Director Amanda Carlisle and staff from the Washtenaw County Office of Community and Economic Development and SOS Community Services, participated in workshops aimed at finding innovative solutions to ending homelessness and advocacy efforts on the Hill to send a loud and clear message to Members of Congress that ending homelessness in the US must be a priority.
Amanda Carlisle presented the County's ongoing work on landlord engagement, which you can view here. All the presentations from all the workshops can be viewed here. You can also view the videos that were played at the daily plenary sessions here.
The NAEH has also put together a series of useful advocacy-related resources, including a motion graphic on why advocacy matters (see below) that you can view and share, and an advocacy guide to ending homelessness.
In the Works: Federal Budget Survey and Community Forum
The WHA and its member organizations are beginning the process of organizing in opposition of the proposed 2018 federal budget cuts to state and local public assistance programs that help low- and middle-income families afford basic necessities, such as food, shelter, child care, job training, and much more. Read more about the proposed federal budget cuts and related advocacy efforts here.
In July we distributed this survey to over 50 nonprofits, social service agencies, community groups, and other organizations that serve people who are vulnerable in Washtenaw County, asking respondents to indicate how much - if any - federal funding their organization receives and the anticipated impact the proposed budget cuts would have on their offerings and the people they serve.
The information provided will be compiled and shared with public officials, stakeholders and the public via a community forum this fall (week of October 16, exact date TBD). We hope our elected representatives will share our concern about the effect of the proposed cuts on those residents of Washtenaw County and beyond who are most vulnerable and act accordingly.
Thank You for Reading!
Questions/comments? Contact Amanda Carlisle at firstname.lastname@example.org.