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Posted on Sun, Jan 6, 2013 : 5:59 a.m.

Number of Washtenaw County homeless youth on the rise

By Danielle Arndt


Volunteer Sue Abbott sorts, organizes and sizes winter coats at the Washtenaw Intermediate School District for the Education Project for Homeless Youth. Abbott originally started with a two-hour shift, now she’s coming back on a regular basis. "It's a real good group that works incredibly hard," she says. Dozens of volunteers help the organization throughout the year.

Daniel Brenner I

Coming Monday: Washtenaw County schools adjust to serve, transport growing number of homeless students

Homelessness among Washtenaw County youth and families is on the rise, and the increase has caused the county’s primary organization for aiding homeless students to rethink how it operates.

Between the 2010-11 and 2011-12 academic years, the Education Project for Homeless Youth (EPHY) saw the total number of students it served increase by nearly 32 percent, from 973 students to 1,282.

Jennifer Martin, program manager for the Education Project, said judging by the pace of referrals for the current school year, the organization is again on track to surpass last year’s total.

“We’re already at almost 900 students identified and it’s only December,” she said. “Ideally, the numbers would start to taper off. But that’s not been the pattern of the past few years…

“Every year, we think this has to be the peak. But the need keeps growing.”

The Education Project is a federally funded program through the Washtenaw Intermediate School District. It receives grant money from the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act, which was reauthorized in January 2002.

The act was created to ensure all youth, including homeless or transitional youth, have equal access to a free and stable public education.

McKinney-Vento defines homeless children as “individuals who lack a fixed, regular and adequate nighttime residence.”

While the number of homeless youth in Washtenaw County has increased, the number of single homeless adults decreased by 7 percent from 2009 to 2011, according to a recent data report prepared by the Washtenaw Housing Alliance.

The Education Project began helping homeless youth in 2006-07. During its first year, it served 370 students. The first real spike of children served occurred in 2009-10: 611 students, from 486 the year before.

Despite the growth in homeless students, the Education Project’s funding appears to have leveled off, said Zoe Starkweather, who is in charge of grants and development for EPHY. The program’s staff structure also has remained about the same since 2006, she said.

The Education Project received $66,738 this year, and $60,000 of that went directly into staffing, Starkweather said.

“People need people to help them navigate the system,” she said.

homelessness totals.jpg

The project employs three part-time social workers. Martin is the closest to full time at 32 hours, Starkweather and Education Coordinator Erin Schaffer work 20 hours per week. EPHY also relies on the assistance of unpaid interns from the University of Michigan and a host of retired teachers and other community volunteers.

The Education Project serves as the coordinator of services for homeless youth in the county. And at its onset, the program’s model was set up much like a case management model. But Martin said due to the increased volume and the level of intensity in the services EPHY provides, the staff has had a number discussions recently about how to streamline its efforts and become more specialized.

“Because there are so few of us here, our focus really is shifting and responsibility is falling more on the school to make sure the day-to-day needs of families are being met,” Martin said.

She said in the past, families that were identified as homeless were referred to the Education Project. EPHY would assist families with filling out the appropriate paperwork and once immediate needs were identified, the project would provide clothing or food or housing resources.

“With the sheer volume, it just doesn’t make sense for us to do that anymore,” Martin said. “We used to deliver backpacks to families, now we just give them to the schools because they know who needs them best anyway…

“We have to re-examine our model. … And right now we don’t know exactly what that is going to look like as we specialize more.”

Starkweather said the key will be perfecting the central agency piece and taking on more of an oversight role. She said there is no reason the Education Project should process all of the paperwork for families. Also, preventing duplication of services in the county is important.

“The other agencies, in the mid-90s to early 2000s, were not as extensive as they are these days. So we were doing more clothing and food,” Starkweather said.

In the past, the Education Project collected jeans to give to homeless families. However, Martin said the project didn’t have room for them anymore. Now, the project gives its jeans to the House by the Side of the Road, located at 824 Phoenix in Ann Arbor. The House by the Side of the Road has the setup to facilitate this service and families still can receive free jeans via a referral from the Education Project, Martin said.

Additionally, the Education Project no longer stocks its own pantry but has partnered with Food Gatherers to provide food for homeless families.

It is not clear why the number of homeless youth is on the rise in Washtenaw County, and people who work with the homeless have a variety of theories. But mostly, experts believe it is a combination of factors.

Ellen Schulmeister, executive director for the Shelter Association of Washtenaw County, said it is partly because there is not enough affordable housing in the area.

“The only way to get more is for the community to actually invest in it. And that money has to come from the state and the feds, but also locally. We have to be willing to make this issue a priority,” she said.

She added public housing units are expensive to build, and the rent is cheap and often unreliable. So instead, developers are investing in student high-rises and luxury apartments, Schulmeister said.

She said the only benefit to this is the student-housing boom could eventually free up some of the private homes in the Ann Arbor city limits that have been “cut up” into apartments.

“Later down the road, it’s possible these homes could be turned into affordable housing or temporary housing for families and people in need,” Schulmeister said.

Single women with children account for 56 percent of all homeless families in Washtenaw County, according to the Housing Alliance. Schulmeister said it’s harder for these women — more so than any other demographic — to find a one-bedroom or studio apartment in this area that they can afford, due to the mouths they also have to feed.

She added the Department of Human Services recently began enforcing a four-year sanction on aid for single-parent households, which also may be contributing to the increase in homeless students.

DHS provides income for women with children who are not working, but there is a four-year limit on receiving that money and the mother can be cut off if she is not involved in an assistance program or actively trying to get a job, Schulmeister said.

From Martin’s vantage point of working with homeless youth, she sees the poor economy and job market as still being a major factor. She said the schools also are getting better at identifying homeless students, and the community as a whole has become more aware of the problem and the services available.


Katie Heumann, 9, of Ann Arbor, asked her friends to bring donations for the Education Project for Homeless Youth to her birthday party recently.

Courtesy of the Washtenaw Intermediate School District

While the significant growth in the number of homeless children has been challenging, Martin said EPHY gets by through the extreme generosity of the community.

Food, clothing, school supplies, winter coats and boots, money for homeless students to go on field trips and a variety of other donations are how EPHY best aids children.

“We really rely on the community a lot for those types of things. And we work with such amazing people,” Martin said.

This year, Keith Hafner’s Karate organized a huge fundraiser for the Education Project, raising more then $12,000. The karate students conducted a demonstration at Briarwood Mall and solicited corporate donors, as well as their family and friends, for funds, Martin said.

The project conducted a holiday gift drive for homeless students the week of Dec. 10 and was warmly given a wide array of toys and games from 9-year-old Ann Arbor resident Katie Heumann. For her birthday party, instead of bringing gifts for her, Katie asked her friends to bring gifts to donate to the Education Project.

“It was very touching,” said Emma Jackson, communications director for the WISD.

“The community always steps up,” Starkweather said.

Danielle Arndt covers K-12 education for Follow her on Twitter @DanielleArndt or email her at



Mon, Jan 7, 2013 : 2:24 p.m.

My teenage nephew is "homeless". Comes from local well-off family. Refuses to go to school or work. Chooses to not live at home but instead pan handles for your hard earned money downtown and live off the kindness of strangers. Ahhhh. The Life Of Riley.


Tue, Jan 8, 2013 : 5:27 p.m.

SO much for familie DR.phil now!


Mon, Jan 7, 2013 : 10:03 a.m.

Cool, and good job Katie H. I see a really big future in your life, and for a nine year old, you sure have a heart of gold. Keep up the good work Katie, it all pays off in t he end. Not to bust any bubbles here, but our Homeless shelter is way too popular, I have heard of people from states as far away as Alaska hes come here looking for relief, and our fair city is getting over whelmed with homeless form outside of our city boarders. I know when I was homeless and need it it was a true heaven, and I was very thankful, so thankful I sent the shelter a quarter of my paycheck for my first year working at the UoifM. I am from A2 and have lived here all my life, and if it weren't for the shelter and their affiliates I would have never had the power to go to school and do something with my life. The fact remains that our great shelter is a huge attraction and should be dealt with. Because for each person that comes from elsewhere it takes a bed away from us the citizens of Washtenaw and Livingston Counties, in which it was intended. I really don't mean to be selfish but it should be not so generous for people from outside the area. Good Day.


Tue, Jan 8, 2013 : 5:26 p.m.

PLUS THE CENSUS 2010 each citzen that signed THE CENSUS THEY STATE OF MICHIGAN get $ 10,000 from WASHINGTON D.C not all comes out of the local citzen..With that many Homeles people and ALL the HOUSES in foreclosure We need to move familie into them NOW....The banks OWNE that to the famlilie see wallstreet journal today..THEy are at GREED ....!


Mon, Jan 7, 2013 : 5:46 a.m.

The article neglects to explain many of the people are not homeless in the sense that they live under a bridge, in a box or car. Many are 2 or more families living together because they can't afford to live on their own. This information is often "left out" because people automatically judge that the families are not technically homeless. In fact, the people in these living situations tend to reside in housing that is too small to accommodate the number of people in the home. This leads to inappropriate sleeping conditions, transmission of parasites (bedbugs, lice, fleas, worms, fungus), potentially exposing children to unsafe people, overused sanitary utilities (sewage overflows), and eviction. This increases stress on the family sometimes leading to family violence, child abuse/neglect, and always stress on the children which affects them in numerous ways. This in itself is a serious issue which this program seeks to address and help these children.


Mon, Jan 7, 2013 : 10:09 a.m.

Right so you opened a can of worms, and quit writing. One question arises, and that is how are they planing to address this issue? How do you know all this? and many other questions, please fill in the blanks.


Mon, Jan 7, 2013 : 5:30 a.m.

It would probably be good to explain "homeless" also means the cohabitation of 2 or more families because they are unable to afford housing on their own.


Mon, Jan 7, 2013 : 2:41 a.m.

Here is a thought. Instead of worrying about when or where the next handout is coming from, "Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime." Instead of fostering dependence on someone ELSE to help us out, teach independence....... It will go a long way in solving everything that is wrong with this country. If parents are negligent in their legal responsibilities to their children, go after them. Garnish wages, or throw their azz in jail. We can't keep asking for money from taxpayers. It just won't work!


Tue, Jan 8, 2013 : 5:31 p.m.

You cannot garnish wages IF there are no jobs(that what the papers telling us),So raise the minum wages and cut gasoline ... BUt then the" 1% " are still getting there raises/BONUS fo some jobs /not even at the jobs etcetc


Mon, Jan 7, 2013 : 3:11 a.m.

Yeah jail more of the people. The USA already locks up the highest % of their people but hey lets lock even more people up in this Free USA


Mon, Jan 7, 2013 : 1:55 a.m.

I like how homelessness is only an issue when a Repubican is in office. I forgot eight years of Granholm were the salad days in Michigan for the homeless. Obama is in the white house now for a second term and I noticed he took an extended vacation to Hawaii with his wife, kids, and their entourage. If he is so highly moral and down with the cause, why did he not just stay home and go to Camp David? He could have donated the money used for the Hawaii trip as a donation to the homeless.


Mon, Jan 7, 2013 : 4:18 p.m.

I like how the national debt is only issue since a democrat is in the white house. Not one republican complained about the debt when Bush was spending like a drunken sailor. Now there is a black democrat in the white house and republicans are screaming bloody murder


Sun, Jan 6, 2013 : 10:23 p.m.

Maybe it's time to lower the working age back to what it was before unions. That way all these 8-12 year olds can stop being so lazy and get a job!


Mon, Jan 7, 2013 : 3:52 a.m.

Won't help if you aren't interested in a job.


Mon, Jan 7, 2013 : 3:10 a.m.

That was Newts idea. Don't kid yourself that Romney wasn't all for it too.

Jonathan Blutarsky

Mon, Jan 7, 2013 : 1:33 a.m.

Thumbs up to you!

martini man

Sun, Jan 6, 2013 : 9:15 p.m.

I think maybe these EPHY folks and like minded liberal groups, may have inadvertantly come up with a way to stop the population decline in Michigan. it's possible that the large number of people who are leaving Michigan in order to find jobs, might soon be offset by a huge influx of people coming to Michigan because there are NO jobs. Once word gets out that the "free stuff"might soon increase, there could be another population boom.Especially in left wing meccas like Ann Arbor. Higher taxes and more federal and state money, is all that will be necessary to sustain the homeless indefinitely. As fas as "affordable" housing is concerned, that's just another liberal term for subsidized housing. A person with no means of support, and a few school age kids in tow, aint gonna have much extra cash for anything, no matter how generous the welfare system is. So if we can't actually help them ..we can at least enable them. Hey ..that might make a good bumper sticker for some Hybrid waiting at the crosswalk.


Mon, Jan 7, 2013 : 2:44 a.m.

I love you man! Well said,. not let the hate mail commence! :)


Sun, Jan 6, 2013 : 8:43 p.m.

Where is Obama's free stuff everyone is talking about?


Mon, Jan 7, 2013 : 1:49 a.m.

An Obama phone is yours for the taking.

Jon Saalberg

Sun, Jan 6, 2013 : 8:40 p.m.

I think Mr. Rick and the GOP legislature were too busy repealing the helmet law, working to destroy unions, and abrogating women's reproductive rights, to notice there are more pressing issues in our state - you know, such as feeding the hungry, housing the homeless, helping the unemployed - not issues the governor or the GOP legislature are really familiar with, or seem to care about.


Mon, Jan 7, 2013 : 3:08 a.m.

Sadly for some folks the right to bear arms and ride helmet less is good enough for them. If people are struggling its not the GOP fault but the helpless people's fault. Just be thankful Romney isn't in charge to finish the job. That guy was totally bad news, min. wage would have been high wages.

Gary Haller

Sun, Jan 6, 2013 : 6:44 p.m.

Its a Nice article About The Home Less Youth and what The School System Is doing About It and all The comments talk About The Political dos and donts I think some personal stories About what Is Really happening to These students and Their Parents About coming to School after sleeping outside Or about Living In a tent city and coming to school This would make the article more interesting and draw more attention to the problems faced by the children To Fix This problem or at least address the problems and make a dent ....

Danielle Arndt

Sun, Jan 6, 2013 : 7:02 p.m.

Gary, thank you for your comment. This will not be the last time we address homelessness among students. A story running tomorrow highlights a little more the challenges students and parents are facing. I would love to talk to more students and parents about their personal experiences and would encourage any interested parties to call or email me. I would welcome hearing about their personal challenges and struggles with homelessness either currently or in the past. Sharing these stories, I agree, will help the community to understand what is really going on with these families and how the community as a whole can address issues of inadequate affordable housing.


Sun, Jan 6, 2013 : 6:16 p.m.

Sadly, until addressing society or social economic issues are included in Governor Snyder's and the GOP Legislative agenda ---instead of policies like Right To Work & Emergency Management-- statistical data of this nature will continue to rise in Washtenaw County & Statewide.


Tue, Jan 8, 2013 : 5:14 p.m.

Yes they Better adress this iusses...because in 10 years this young people will bee The SOLDIER that this country will NEED and they have to bee SMART and is time to put poeple before Money...


Mon, Jan 7, 2013 : 2:50 a.m.

Ypsi girl - Perhaps YOU can enlighten all of us and share with us what great societal good Granmole did in her 8 years of running this State over the cliff. All of the "ills" that you speak of were not of Snyder's making. If you suggest all of this is Snyder's doing then you are sadly mistaking. What did Granmole ACTUALLY do in her 8 years? I want specifics. No political double speak allowed. :)


Sun, Jan 6, 2013 : 10:41 p.m.

Basic Bob, You're either misinformed or lying. Public Act #4 was used in the Cities and/or School Districts of Benton Harbor, Muskegon Public Schools, Benton Harbor Public Schools, Flint, Hamtramck, Ecorse and Detroit Public Schools. The City of Detroit was under a Consent Agreement until Nov. 6th due to legislation passed with Public Act #4, to be used as an alternative to the Emergency Manager appointment. As for paying for programs and not funding them, revenue for the Family Independence Assistance/Program comes from the FEDERAL Government in the form of block grants and allotments to the States. The funding for these programs vary from year to year, depending on the Federal Budget. Former Gov. Jennifer Granholm made temporary cuts to the Medicare program when necessary. Specifically, in 2006, Gov. Granholm cut vision and dental treatment for adults over 18 out of the Medicare program. A limited Dental Care benefit was restored for adults in 2008. In turn, she actively promoted the "Welfare to Work" program (i.e. - President Bill Clinton's FEDERAL mandate during his administration). The program REDUCED FIA recipients about 7% each year up until 2007, when the economy collapsed. Remember that Basic Bob? For a recipient to receive FIA, Medicare or Food Assistance (which only applied for adults with children or very low income state residents) the Federal guidelines mandated they must work at least 20 hours per week or be a full-time student in school. If the hours dropped or they quit school, food assistance, Medicare and FIA benefits would cease. Snyder has done NOTHING to promote welfare to work. In fact, he has cut the budget for Michigan Works by 40% since being sworn into office, along with cutting food assistance to college students and FIA benefits. Again, don't let the facts, stand in your way!

Basic Bob

Sun, Jan 6, 2013 : 9 p.m.

@YG4E, Snyder's EM law was suspended when it was put on the ballot for voter approval. The only emergency management law we had, and all of the emergencies, were used by Governor Granholm. So PA4 was never used. The cuts to food assistance were only necessary because the previous governor failed to provide adequate funding for unemployment insurance and welfare programs, knowing that she could empty the piggy bank and never look back. How much did she borrow from the federal government to extend those benefits? And why does every business in the state now have to pay it back - with interest - even if they kept their employees through hard times?


Sun, Jan 6, 2013 : 7:33 p.m.

The Laws are NOT in effect? Really? Snyder cut $900 MILLION dollars out of the Public School Rainy Day fund (2011). Emergency Manager Law 1.0 was signed March 16, 2011 and was in effect until November 6, 2012. The voters will to end Emergency Management was dismissed by our GOP Controlled House and another E.M. Law was enacted the third week of December 2012. Cuts to the state unemployment weeks --from 26 to 20 occurred in 2011. The College Students receiving food assistance and further cuts to a 4 year limit on FIA benefits was signed in 2011. Shall I go on? The only bill that's not in effect yet is the Right to Work Legislation. Oh, one more thing....Snyder and company have been cutting money from State Social Services Program (Department of Health & Human Services) since the second month he's been in office. All to the benefit of his Corporate Donors. So yes, these cuts and more are impacting the rise in homeless youth in this county.

Basic Bob

Sun, Jan 6, 2013 : 6:58 p.m.

Homelessness and poverty have been on the rise long before Snyder took office. These laws are not yet in effect, and there has been no reduction in public sector jobs. It is possible that they may actually improve the conditions of the poor in ways that overpaid government jobs for a privileged few have not.


Sun, Jan 6, 2013 : 5:50 p.m.

Government policies have created much of the mess that is described in this article and many of the posters seem to think that more government policies regarding assistance will make it better. Traditional families which were the bedrock of this country are broken and discouraged by the culture and media. We're in some deep stuff here folks, the country is broke, congress is dysfunctional, and it appears after the last election the majority is okay with four more years of that. The pain will only deepen until we return to our core values and let God back into our lives. He'll be there to pick up the pieces, I'm afraid that time is coming sooner than we might want it to. I'm not talking end of the world, I'm talking about the pain when most realize the government cannot fix this problem and reality smacks us in the face. People prayed after the radical muslims murdered all of the innocent people at the World Trade Center and after the recent shootings, that seems to be the only time we as a nation seem to pray any more; when we want help from God. Otherwise we turn our back on God and rely on a dysfuntional government. If we would have begun cuts four years ago and felt the pain for the last four years it might have been over or receding by now, instead we are only in a deeper hole. It won't be pretty just ask anyone from Greece.............From the IMF: "Two years later, the Greek economy is still shrinking, and unemployment is at 25 percent." We are arrogant to believe it cannot happen here but the socialist experiment is quickly losing it's ability to extract any more money from the serfs/citizens of the USA. I'm going to pray for our country today and all of the wonderful people in it.


Mon, Jan 7, 2013 : 2:33 a.m.

Mike - Judging by the pounding you are taking on the thumbs up / thumbs down, I will "assume" that A2's brain trust is not in synch with your thinking. No surprise here!:) BUT, you comments were well thought out and well

Macabre Sunset

Sun, Jan 6, 2013 : 7:40 p.m.

I thought your god was a carpenter. Why doesn't he build some homes, then?


Sun, Jan 6, 2013 : 6:45 p.m.

Well said Mike!

Great Lakes Lady

Sun, Jan 6, 2013 : 5:25 p.m.

I just noticed the following headline on when you click on it the "page not found": Washtenaw County higher education unions gross $6.9M a year but brace for lower revenues after right-to-work passage How about this union donating some of it's $6.9M a year to help homeless children?


Mon, Jan 7, 2013 : 2:47 a.m.

Napalm - You obviously cannot pickup on tongue in cheek remarks. HER point was that their is a lot of slush money floating around that could be BETTER spent instead of on politics, lobbying, etc. Just like the 4 mil that was spend on the passage of Prop 2 that was just defeated. That would have paid for a lot of teachers. Just sayin! :)


Sun, Jan 6, 2013 : 6:42 p.m.

Hmmm. . . so anytime there is some economic gain anywhere in society, the entity or those reaping the gain should redistribute such gain to those who were not a party to it? Simply because you want it to happen. Good luck with that. Last time I checked, unions (whether you support them or not) have a legal right to ascribe to an economic gain, and retain such gain for their own use, if their leadership and constituents deem such action appropriate. . .

Great Lakes Lady

Sun, Jan 6, 2013 : 5:18 p.m.

And our government and the media try to convince us that our economy is improving?!?


Mon, Jan 7, 2013 : 10:51 a.m.

It's your Governor that is responsible for this, and many other attacks to our welfare rights, jobs, and he si doing everything he has done he said he wasn't going to do here.


Mon, Jan 7, 2013 : 3:01 a.m.

Hey the suckers are buying new cars, what more do you want. If car sales are going up things are looking up in their eyes.


Sun, Jan 6, 2013 : 6:33 p.m.

If you have relevant skills that are valued in the marketplace you will generally be able to be employed. If your skills are pretty much constrained to "fogging up a mirror" you may struggle. That is the new reality. The sooner we all accept this reality, stop vainly searching for someone to blame, and for that matter expect the folks in government to somehow solve "the problem" the quicker we can all move forward.


Sun, Jan 6, 2013 : 5:51 p.m.

Yes they are, along with the government news media complex..............


Sun, Jan 6, 2013 : 4:12 p.m.

It's too bad so much of what the Education Project receives goes to staffing. It's too bad there wasn't a way to have recent grads volunteer hours go towards student loans like Teach America or something similar. (not bashing those that receive a salary, just thinking out loud)


Sun, Jan 6, 2013 : 3:37 p.m.

The bottom line is this. The feds and state do not have the money to help these people when we are basically on a fiscal cliff ourselves. Gone are the days when communities banded together to help these people get back on their feet. hate to say it folks, but there is no more help anywhere because everyone is trying to just make it themselves. I am still curious to know why that homeless shelter in Ann Arbor isn't doing enough to help? Is it because they are too strapped to do anything about it? Folks you got strapped with a white elephant.


Mon, Jan 7, 2013 : 3:13 p.m.

NASA laid off over half its workers when they ended the space shuttle. Where are they now? Probably on welfare or unemployment still looking for a job. NATO has nothing to do with it although one rep did make a valid point. Why are we still sending money over seas to people who hate our guts? Need to end over seas benefits and start spending it at home. IMO


Mon, Jan 7, 2013 : 2:56 a.m.

Yeah the Fed's need to fund NASA and NATO, that comes first for our government.


Sun, Jan 6, 2013 : 6:34 p.m.

The state & Feds give the $$$ to tax breaks for the top 2 %

Pamela Bethune

Sun, Jan 6, 2013 : 2:40 p.m.

I would like to understand more here. Are these people newly homeless? It sounds like many of them are long term problems from the vague references to the four year limit. So are we having new people fall thru the safety or is there a core of people who either need more extensive help or a change in tactics? If the same tactics have not worked in four years, it is time to try new tactics.


Mon, Jan 7, 2013 : 5:42 a.m.

The article neglects to explain many of the people are not homeless in the sense that they live under a bridge, in a box or car. Many are 2 or more families living together because they can't afford to live on their own. This information is often "left out" because people automatically judge that the families are not technically homeless. In fact, the people in these living situations tend to reside in housing that is too small to accommodate the number of people in the home. This leads to inappropriate sleeping conditions, transmission of parasites (bedbugs, lice, fleas, worms, fungus), potentially exposing children to unsafe people, overused sanitary utilities (sewage overflows), and eviction. This increases stress on the family sometimes leading to family violence, child abuse/neglect, and always stress on the children which affects them in numerous ways.

tom swift jr.

Sun, Jan 6, 2013 : 2:38 p.m.

Sadly, part of the problem is that EPHY has always needed put much of their energy into "encouraging" compliance on the part of the school districts. Districts, with dwindling resources, are often reluctant to provide the services mandated under the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act. The McKinney-Vento Act ensures homeless children transportation to and from school free of charge, allowing children to attend their school of origin (last school enrolled or the school they attended when they first become homeless) regardless of what district the family resides in. This can become expensive for the school district. It further requires schools to register homeless children even if they lack normally required documents, such as immunization records or proof of residence, often districts are reluctant to accept students without these documents. And, often students that are homeless are also students that present other behavioral barriers to a successful school experience, they may not be students that a school is encouraging to attend. EPHY provides a critical service for these students. The level of funding is very inadequate and should be increased through funding from WISD and local school districts.


Mon, Jan 7, 2013 : 3:16 p.m.

Mike? When we stop sending money over seas to help whomever over there, maybe we might find enough money to help those who need it most here. Our government is broke and I think the ones who know it is broke are us on this site.


Mon, Jan 7, 2013 : 10:37 a.m.

What are you talking about? I didn't read anything of mental health capacity in this article. Who are you talking to, and why is this an issue for concern relative to helping out the poor families, and there are way too many students here in this city who think they have the answer in the text books, but no, you don't, and these places may help, but it is not relative to this article to be concerned of mental health issues. I assure you that the mental health of all citizens are taken care of by the proper authorities, and None of our business. You keep reading those texts and taking those tests, and allow the people who are best suited take care of other issues they may have. Our concern here is to help the poor children for they can go to school and learn, and go to college, and if they have to worry about what's going to happen to them that takes away from prime school time. So put you money where your mouth is and donate to the cause. Tell your friends and who ever else to donate also.


Sun, Jan 6, 2013 : 5:53 p.m.

jns131 - what part of the government is broke don't you understand????????


Sun, Jan 6, 2013 : 3:32 p.m.

I hate to say it, but if they keep cutting school bus transportation for children? There won't be a law to enact for these homeless children. Sorry but the feds and state need to ramp it up a bit instead of giving themselves raises.


Sun, Jan 6, 2013 : 2:12 p.m.

hey art commission how about giving them the mil you got in your bank account. then go away!


Sun, Jan 6, 2013 : 8:03 p.m.

Yeah. It's all about the Art.

James Toy

Sun, Jan 6, 2013 : 2:06 p.m.

I would guess that the number of youth who "transgress or are perceived to transgress" the norms of gender identity, gender expression, and sexual orientation is disproportionate to their incidence in the population at large. Such youth are at risk of rejection by their families, their religious/faith institutions, and their cisgender and heterosexual peers. .Ozone House and the Neutral Zone might be able to comment on this concern.


Mon, Jan 7, 2013 : 10:23 a.m.

What are you talking about? I didn't read anything of mental health capacity in this article. Who are you talking to, and why is this an issue for concern relative to helping out the poor families, and there are way too many students here in this city who think they have the answer in the text books, but no, you don't, and these places may help, but it is not relative to this article to be concerned of mental health issues. I assure you that the mental health of all citizens are taken care of by the proper authorities, and None of our business. You keep reading those texts and taking those tests, and allow the people who are best suited take care of other issues they may have. Our concern here is to help the poor children for they can go to school and learn, and go to college, and if they have to worry about what's going to happen to them that takes away from prime school time. So put you money where your mouth is and donate to the cause. Tell your friends and who ever else to donate also.


Mon, Jan 7, 2013 : 12:48 a.m.

Danielle, I don't think that this program sees a lot of the "unaccompanied" kids who are homeless, because they are off the radar. The young woman I referred to was 16 and not in school. And she is not required to attend school. We did talk to her parents, who agreed to take her back in, but she was back out on the streets within weeks because she was not following their rules. I

Danielle Arndt

Sun, Jan 6, 2013 : 7:36 p.m.

James, I think your comment has raised some interesting questions that do need further exploration. In my interview with Jennifer Martin, she told me only a small percentage of the homeless youth identified by EPHY are "unaccompanied youth," meaning they were kicked out of their homes, ran away or, for some reason, have no contact with their parent or guardian. Unaccompanied youth could be living in a variety of places — shelters or couch surfing or living someplace not meant for humans, i.e. outside, in a car, etc. In Washtenaw County, the majority of homeless students and their families, nearly 30 percent so far this year, are "doubled up" or living with another family. The next largest category, Martin told me, is children living in shelters, followed by children living in hotels/motels. Safe House and Ozone House are the top two shelters for homeless youth, according to EPHY's records. Monday's story talks a little more about this.

James Toy

Sun, Jan 6, 2013 : 7:11 p.m.

Apologies to the writer who questioned the relevance of my first post. Here's a clarifying statement from the [National Center for Transgender Equality-- "Housing and Homelessness . . . One in five transgender people in the U.S. have been refused a home or apartment, and more than one in ten have been evicted, because of their gender identity. In 2010, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) issued guidance stating that discrimination against transgender renters or homebuyers based on gender identity or gender stereotypes constitutes sex discrimination and is prohibited under the federal Fair Housing Act. While federal authorities have pursued transgender housing discrimination claims under this guidance, lack of awareness and legal clarity mean that discrimination persists. Strong, explicit legal protection from gender identity discrimination is essential to securing equal housing opportunities for transgender people. Homelessness is also a critical issue for transgender people, with one in five having experienced homelessness at some time in their lives because of discrimination and family rejection. As a result, an estimated 20-40% of the more than 1.6 million homeless youth in the United States are LGBT3. Unfortunately, transgender people facing homelessness also face discrimination from agencies that should be helping them, with nearly one in three (29%) reporting being turned away from a shelter due to their transgender status. While leading experts on homelessness recommend providing emergency housing consistent with a person's gender identity, 42% of trans people facing homelessness have been forced to stay in a shelter living as the wrong gender. . . ."


Sun, Jan 6, 2013 : 5 p.m.

I am concerned that this article focuses on the "officially homeless" children and youth. I have known many young people who were not officially homeless, but have been make unwelcome in their family homes because of poverty (can't afford to support them), behavior, or serious parental issues. Some of these kids end out "couch surfing" and are not in school. When I tried to help one such young woman to get into Ozone house (she was staying at my home for a while with my daughter) they could not serve her unless her parents got involved and they refused. This article is only describing the tip of an iceberg.

Sandra Samons

Sun, Jan 6, 2013 : 4:41 p.m.

Understanding the population being served is always a critical part of being effective in serving them and potentially to solving the underlying problems, of which there will inevitably be several components. There is no question that gender and sexually diverse youth are at high risk, which is why this question is just as relevant as geographic analysis to identify specific locations of need.

Basic Bob

Sun, Jan 6, 2013 : 2:47 p.m.

Most homeless children belong to homeless families. Let's focus on the problem of homelessness which affects all types of people without preference.

tom swift jr.

Sun, Jan 6, 2013 : 2:41 p.m.

Could you explain how/why you've brought this issue into this discussion? I don't see the connection.

dading dont delete me bro

Sun, Jan 6, 2013 : 1:02 p.m.

Thought this was the entitled generation?

Michelle Pierson

Sun, Jan 6, 2013 : 12:59 p.m.

Now this is community. We will need to help each other more and more. Our taxes are going up, and the only thing that won't cost is our sense of community, and sharing.

Jim Mulchay

Sun, Jan 6, 2013 : 12:44 p.m.

Questions - (1) When new housing developments are built (in Ann Arbor) arn't there suppossed to be affordable units included - or is the definition of affordable so vague that these families can't afford these units? (2) Is this something WISD could help coordinate - or is this better left to the individual school districts?

Danielle Arndt

Sun, Jan 6, 2013 : 5:54 p.m.

Jim, I am not sure about your first question. It's something I can look into. I'll also ask our business/real estate reporter, Lizzy Alfs. She may be able to weigh in here. As to your second question, as the story discusses, the increase in volume of homeless youth over the years has made it more difficult for the WISD's Education Project to coordinate helping displaced, transitional or homeless families find housing or housing resources. This responsibility has fallen more to the individual districts.


Sun, Jan 6, 2013 : 12:39 p.m.

It would be interesting to note the distribution of the homeless youth populations throughout Washtenaw County (i.e., Ann Arbor, Ypsilanti, Saline, etc.) and see where this spike of 32% happened.

Danielle Arndt

Sun, Jan 6, 2013 : 5:47 p.m.

HB11, there is actually a second story exploring homelessness running tomorrow that will show the numbers broken down by district. In the 2011-12 school year, it is also important to note the Dexter tornado significantly impacted the Dexter school district, which typically does not have very many homeless youth.


Sun, Jan 6, 2013 : 3:05 p.m.

Zipcodes are a poor geographic determinate of the issue if you're of a NIMBY mindset. There are areas of the 48197 zipcode that are in the AA school district (gasp). . . And at the end of the day it is problem that effects the entire citizenry. It's not a case of us and them.

Basic Bob

Sun, Jan 6, 2013 : 2:40 p.m.

The report linked above shows the "last zip code" was 67% from Ypsilanti (48197/48198), 30% from Ann Arbor. If there are homeless people in the rest of the county, they aren't making into town to ask for help.