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News & Events

July 26 Advocacy Opportunity in Lansing

Heather Nash

"How Housing Changed My Life" 
July 26 | 12:00-1:30PM | State Capitol Steps | 100 N Capitol

Event Details:
The Michigan Coalition Against Homelessness (MCAH) and partners are sponsoring a rally and storytelling event on the Lansing Capitol Steps on Wednesday, July 26 at 12:00PM.

The event, "How Housing Changed My Life,"  is part of the National Housing Week of Action's "Our Homes, Our Voices," and will feature personal stories from those whose lives have been touched by homelessness.

RSVP Here Today!

Why Attend?

In the face of potential devastating cuts to the HUD budget, our members of congress need to hear from real Michiganians who have been aided by programs funded by the federal budget. All people deserve an affordable home, and no one should be forced to give up food and basic healthcare to keep a roof over their heads. We need to call for greater federal investment in affordable homes and community development and show how we, as everyday people who live and work in Michigan, could be impacted by drastic cuts to the housing budget

Have you or someone you know been touched by homelessness?
MCAH is seeking storytellers for the July 26 event. If you have experienced homelessness or have been at risk of experiencing homelessness and would like to participate, please contact Laurel Burchfield at or 517-853-3894.

RSVP and Transportation Information:
The WHA is coordinating transportation to and from this event for Washtenaw County residents. Please RSVP here to let us know if you are interested in attending, and if you need a ride. Once we have a better sense of the numbers, we will be in touch with more details.

Questions about the July 26 event?
Email Rebecca Weiland, WHA Advocacy and Policy Intern, at

Farewell and Congrats, Ellen Schulmeister!

Heather Nash

Serving Washtenaw County since 1988, Shelter Association of Washtenaw County (SAWC) Executive Director, Ellen Schulmeister has retired! Ellen received proclamations from both the City of Ann Arbor and Washtenaw County, honoring her years of service assisting our county’s most vulnerable population. Ellen played a key role in fundraising for the creation of the Robert J. Delonis Center, located in the heart of downtown Ann Arbor, and has served as Executive Director since 1998. Shortly after, she helped to develop the Washtenaw Housing Alliance. We’d like to take this opportunity to give our most heartfelt thanks to Ellen for her vital role in helping to end homelessness in Washtenaw County. We are grateful that she will continue to be a member of the Washtenaw Housing Alliance Board of Directors. Congratulations, Ellen!


Trump Budget Slated to "Increase Homelessness and Hardship in Every State" and What You Can Do About It

Heather Nash

Attention Housing & Homelessness Advocates!

The Trump Administration released its 2018 Budget Proposal at the end of last month, and it includes shockingly deep cuts to numerous major public programs that help millions of struggling families pay for food, healthcare, housing, and more, all while providing massive tax breaks to the wealthiest Americans. Learn more about how the Trump Budget would impact American families here.

Trump’s Budget will “Decimate” Public Programs

The budget release has spurred a massive response and backlash from many research and policy institutions, organizational leaders in the human services sector, as well as concerned citizens. Here we share recaps from two important advocacy Webinars presented on the Trump Budget, including action items that you and your organization can take TODAY to help preserve the basic human rights and needs of individuals and families here in Washtenaw County.

Webinar 1 Recap: Trump’s Budget NOT “Dead On Arrival"

The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP), Coalition on Human Needs, and Center for American Progress recently co-sponsored a Webinar outlining tips, tactics, and various actions concerned citizens and organizations can take to help protect our country’s most vulnerable community members from the proposed Trump Budget cuts. 

Contrary to popular rhetoric, Trump’s budget is not necessarily “dead on arrival,” rather many of the basic components are the same as past Republican house budgets. The proposed budget has massive implications on the final budget that will ultimately come to pass. Therefore, we must act now to stop the Trump Budget from becoming reality.  


"Trump Budget Should Be Dead on Arrival — But May Not Be"

Start Here: Messaging Matters

Consider the following tips when communicating about the Trump Budget:

  • Oppose and Propose: Always present a strong alternative or “big idea” for what your organization WILL DO to help provide families’ access to basic living standards.

  • Highlight Broken Promises: The Trump campaign vowed to help poor and working class people, yet in his budget he does exactly the opposite. Show whose side Trump is really on. 

  • Avoid Charity Talk: Speak TO people, not ABOUT people. Explain in plain terms how the Trump Budget will impact “you and your family.”

  • Use “Kitchen Table” Terms: Avoid jargon, acronyms, program names, etc. that may be unfamiliar to some people. Rather, discuss “programs that enable families to keep a roof over their heads, food on the table, etc.”

  • Name Villains and Tradeoffs: Don’t shy away from language that will help move people from disbelief, to anger/outrange, to action, for example “the Trump Budget slashes affordable housing to pay for tax cuts for the wealthy and corporations.”

  • Show Who is Most Impacted: Reveal how vulnerable groups (people with disabilities, children, etc.) will be impacted by cuts to Medicaid, food, etc.

Other Ways to Take Action

Webinar 2 Recap: Trump Budget Slashes Funding for Housing & Homeless Assistance Programs

The National Alliance to End Homelessness (NAEH) hosted a Webinar on the impact of the President’s Budget on housing and homelessness programs and policies. According to CBPP, the Trump Budget would increase homelessness and hardship in every state.  

NAEH outlined some key policy priorities that are facing massive cuts under the Trump Budget, including:

  • McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Grants is the federal governments largest homeless assistance program. According to NAEH, the Trump Budget proposes to cut the program by $133 million, resulting in an estimated 25,000-person increase in homelessness in FY 2018.

  • The Medicaid Expansion increased health care coverage to individuals and families living in extreme poverty and helps pay for supportive housing services. According to NAEH, together the Trump Budget cuts to Medicaid and the American Health Care Act (if passed) would cut Medicaid spending in half by 2027, with at least 14 million people feeling the impact immediately. 

  • Affordable Housing programs are critical to homelessness prevention. The Trump Budget proposes to downsize Section 8 by ~250,000, an unprecedented move that would - for the first time ever - take housing vouchers away from people currently using them and make them homeless. The proposed budget also eliminates the National Housing Trust Fund and severely cuts public housing.

We must act NOW to save the programs that assist struggling individuals and families facing homelessness and housing affordability issues. Please consider signing the following petitions, and ask the organizations you are part of - as well as your friends and families - to do the same.

Take Action Today, by:

Questions/comments? Contact WHA here.

Sharing a Message from Diane Yentel, National Low Income Housing Coalition President & CEO, on President Trump's Proposed Budget

Heather Nash

Message from Diane Yentel, National Low Income Housing Coalition President and CEO, on President Trump's Proposed Budget

Washington, DC – President Donald Trump is expected to send to Congress a high-level budget proposal for Fiscal Year 2018 next week. An overview of early drafts by the Washington Post show the severity of cuts under consideration. Multiple sources confirm that OMB Director Mick Mulvaney could slash the HUD budget by as much as 14% ($6 billion)—without considering inflationary adjustments. There is a national shortage of 7.4 million homes affordable and available to the lowest income people in this country. Today, just one in four low income people in need of assistance, including seniors, people with disabilities, families with children, and veterans, get the help that they need. In light these considerations, these suggested cuts are unconscionable and unacceptable. These draconian cuts could cause homelessness.

The proposed cuts would devastate critical programs that keep roofs over the heads of some of the most vulnerable people in our communities. They are in direct contrast to Mr. Trump’s promises to revitalize distressed communities and ensure that “nobody’s going to be dying on the street” from homelessness. 

Mr. Trump’s proposed budget would slash resources to repair and rehabilitate public housing developments by two-thirds. Even before these dramatic cuts, we lose an estimated 10,000 public housing apartments each year due to chronic underfunding; the capital needs backlog is close to $40 billion and grows at a rate of $3.4 billion per year. Such deep cuts would allow properties in which billions of dollars have been invested over decades to fall further into disrepair. Communities would lose a long-standing asset that has provided millions of people a place to call home and that—with the proper investment—can continue to do so for generations to come.

The proposed cuts to Housing Choice Voucher rental assistance could result in more than 200,000 families losing that critical support. Many would be forced to pay even more of their limited incomes on rent, having insufficient resources left for food, healthcare, transportation and other basic needs. Others would be unable to cover the increased cost of their rents and would face the destabilizing impact of eviction, which has especially damaging effects on children and their ability to succeed in school. In the worst cases, these families will become homeless, reversing the gains made in recent years to reduce homelessness in America.

Mr. Trump further proposes cutting resources that provide thousands more affordable homes for the lowest income seniors or people with disabilities. This would put residents at an especially high risk of eviction and homelessness, make it difficult for landlords to make their monthly mortgage payments, and erode the public-private partnerships that make these rental homes possible.

While Native Americans have some of the worst housing needs in the U.S.—suffering from extreme levels of poverty and substandard housing—Mr. Trump’s proposed budget would cut resources targeted to these communities by nearly a quarter.

And by eliminating block grant resources for community development and housing production, the Trump budget would undermine the ability for states and communities to address their most pressing needs.

Federal investments in affordable housing have already been cut significantly in recent years because of the low spending caps required by the Budget Control Act of 2011. Funding to HUD was already $3.4 billion—or 8.4%—lower in 2016 than in 2010, adjusted for inflation. The same programs that would suffer dramatic cuts in Mr. Trump’s budget are those that have been hardest hit in recent years—public housing, community development and housing block grants, and housing for the elderly and people with disabilities.

This is the wrong approach. Mr. Trump and Congress should be increasing investments in affordable homes—not dramatically cutting resources. According to the National Low Income Housing Coalition’s (NLIHC) recently released report, The Gap: A Shortage of Affordable Homes, the U.S. has a shortage of 7.4 million affordable rental homes available to the nation’s 11.4 million extremely low income households. This means that for every 100 extremely low income households, there are just 35 rental homes affordable and available to them. As a result, 71% pay more than half of their income on rent and utilities. Despite the growing housing affordability crisis, just one in four households eligible for housing assistance receive the help they need.

The NLIHC-led Campaign for Housing and Community Development Funding recently released a new report, A Place to Call Home, showcasing the latest research on how access to affordable housing boosts economic mobility, reduces poverty and homelessness, improves health outcomes, and strengthens the economy by supporting local jobs and increasing wages. The report estimates that more than 500,000 jobs were supported through HUD investments in 2015 alone. It also features more than 100 success stories of how families and communities have benefited from federal investments in affordable housing—from the very programs that the Trump budget proposes to cut.

These proposed cuts are unacceptable, and Congress must soundly reject them. We call on HUD Secretary Dr. Ben Carson to uphold the commitments he made during his confirmation process. At that time, Dr. Carson said, “We need to be cognizant of our fiscal responsibilities as well as our social responsibilities. Safety net programs are important. I would never abolish one without having an alternative.” We couldn’t agree more. Dr. Carson must uphold his commitment to “house as many families as possible in safe, affordable housing…and look for ways to expand affordable housing options everywhere” by urging Mr. Trump and Mr. Mulvaney to reverse these harmful cuts before submitting a budget proposal to Congress.

Furthermore, Mr. Trump and Congress must lift the spending caps with parity for defense and non-defense programs and ensure the highest level of funding possible for affordable housing. We cannot afford to balance our budget on the backs of low-income people. Instead, we must invest in the resources that families and communities need to thrive.

Join NLIHC and other leaders of CHCDF for a webinar on March 20 at 4pm to learn more about the impact of President Trump’s proposed budget and how you can help protect these critical resources.

WHA's January Newsletter

Heather Nash

To view a copy of our January Newsletter, please click HERE. If you're interested in subscribing to our newsletter, please visit our home page and fill out the box at the bottom of the page! 


2017 Point-In-Time Count

Heather Nash

Washtenaw County's Point-In-Time count, a one night count of all sheltered and unsheltered persons experiencing homelessness, will take place on January 26th from 4am-8am. The Point-In-Time count, a federally mandated count that takes place annually in January, helps communities track progress toward ending homelessness by providing valuable data that is utilized by local human service agencies within each community. A debriefing of the data collected from this year's Point-In-Time count will be held on February 28th, from 9-11 am at WCC's Morris Lawrence Building. The debriefing is open to the public. 


Recent MLive article focuses on Built for Zero initiative

Heather Nash

A homeless camp under a bridge in Ann Arbor in 2015. (File photo | The Ann Arbor News)

A homeless camp under a bridge in Ann Arbor in 2015. (File photo | The Ann Arbor News)

By Ryan Stanton

ANN ARBOR, MI - Since launching an ambitious campaign to address homelessness in January 2015, organizations in Washtenaw County have housed 269 veterans and 230 chronically homeless individuals.

Those figures exceed the county's initial goals for the Zero:2016 campaign, which was slated to end next month.

County officials announced this week the effort is going to continue and is being renamed "Built for Zero," reflecting the progress made to build sustainable systems to end veteran and chronic homelessness for good.

Washtenaw County is among dozens of communities nationwide working to end chronic and veteran homelessness through the national Zero:2016 campaign.

According to Community Solutions, the national nonprofit coordinating the effort, participating communities have collectively housed more than 60,000 homeless people since January 2015, five communities have ended veteran homelessness, and two have ended chronic homelessness.

Washtenaw County has received the Michigan Housing Development Authority's "Ending Veteran Homelessness" award for reducing veteran homelessness.

"Ending homelessness requires a system that is responsive and flexible," Andrea Plevek, director of the Washtenaw County Office of Community and Economic Development, said in a statement. "Over the past two years, our community has incorporated principles of continuous improvement and produced incredible housing outcomes for both veterans and people experiencing chronic homelessness. And while we still have work to do, we know we can make homelessness rare, brief, and non-recurring in Washtenaw County."

As part of Zero:2016, communities are working together to build real-time, by-name lists of individuals experiencing homelessness, use survey tools to identify the best housing options for different individuals, integrate local housing and service agencies into a single coordinated system, and recruit landlords to increase the pool of available apartments.

The Washtenaw County Continuum of Care coordinates community-based efforts to end homelessness and has implemented those action steps, resulting in addressing the needs of homeless individuals faster and more effectively, according to the Office of Community and Economic Development.

For more information on the Zero:2016 efforts in the Ann Arbor area, go here. And for more info on Built for Zero, go here.