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SYG Fund

Sister Yvonne Gellise Fund for Permanent Supportive Housing Services

Established in 2011, the Sister Yvonne Gellise Fund was endowed to provide funding for permanent supportive housing services to eliminate homelessness for people with the greatest need. The Fund is intended to work in partnership with federal, county and community efforts to stabilize the funding of supportive services to keep people permanently housed.


The Sister Yvonne Gellise Fund, an endowment fund of the Ann Arbor Area Community Foundation, was established with a $1 million gift from St. Joseph Mercy Health System to mark St. Joseph Mercy Hospital's 100th anniversary. The Ann Arbor Area Community Foundation matched the Health System's inaugural gift with another $1 million to help build the endowment.

The Fund honors Sister Yvonne Gellise, a founder and board member of the Washtenaw Housing Alliance (WHA) and a tireless advocate for the poor. Sister Yvonne first came to Ann Arbor in 1968 to become Chief Executive of St. Joseph Mercy Health System, where she has spent more than 40 years supporting St. Joe's healing mission.

National and local studies have shown that “permanent supportive housing” - housing combined with services to meet the specific needs of those who experience sustained or frequent homelessness - yields positive outcomes compared to programs that provide only shelter. 


Supportive services such as integrated primary care and mental health services, substance abuse counseling, employment or vocational training, transportation, problem solving or dispute resolution, crisis management and stabilization, and preventative intervention help people address the underlying issues and stay housed.

Positive outcomes include:

  • 83% of formerly homeless tenants in supportive housing were still housed after one year;

  • 79% of persons with severe psychiatric and substance use disorders were still housed one year after placement in supportive housing;

  • 50% decrease in emergency room visits and hospital inpatient days;

  • 80% decrease in use of emergency detoxification services; and

  • 50% increase in earned income.

Providing supportive housing services is also cost effective, helping people with the greatest need avoid the more expensive consequences. Compared to $40 per day for supportive housing with services for a single adult in Washtenaw County, it costs:

  • $94 per day per person in a Michigan prison;

  • $129 per day per person in the Washtenaw County Jail;

  • $66 per day per adult in a temporary shelter.

The best way to end homelessness is to prevent homelessness by identifying and working to eliminate its root causes. Our community is blessed to have the capacity to generate an abundance of resources that can, with willingness and compassion, be invested in this common cause.
— Sister Yvonne Gellise

Washtenaw County has a long and proud history of providing solutions to challenges facing our community through public/private collaboration. The Sister Yvonne Gellise Fund for Permanent Supportive Housing Services is a great example of our collective commitment to ensuring a better Washtenaw County for all.

Further reading and information:

For additional information about the Sister Yvonne Gellise Fund for Permanent Supportive Housing Services,
please contact Margaret Cole.

To make a gift via credit card to the Sister Yvonne Gellise Fund, please visit the Ann Arbor Area Community Foundation’s online giving page. Checks can be made out to the Ann Arbor Area Community Foundation, with "Sister Yvonne Gellise Fund” indicated in the memo section, and mailed to:  

Ann Arbor Area Community Foundation
301 N. Main Street, Suite 300
Ann Arbor, MI 48104