Homeless Services

In partnership, Washtenaw Intermediate School District and Ozone House works to ensure students experiencing homelessness and temporary living situations enroll, regularly attend, and succeed in school.

During the 2019-2020 school year, we served over 1,200 students in Washtenaw County, ages 0-21, from the nine school districts and ten public school academies in the county.  Every school district in Washtenaw County works with students in temporary living situations.

We work closely with all of the shelters in Washtenaw County, but also serve families living in motels or staying with friends and family due to loss of housing.  We also work with students in temporary foster care placements.

We are funded primarily through the federal McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act, reauthorized in January of 2002. The Act guarantees that students who are homeless have equal access to the same free and appropriate public education provided to others.  We also rely on private donations and grants to directly meet student needs.

How To Access Services

Most students access our services through their school, a shelter or community agency, where they fill out our Referral Paperwork. Families can also call our office directly at (734) 994-8100, x 1518 during Monday - Thursday, 9am - 4pm.

To submit a referral online please click here: Education Project Referral

Our paperwork is meant to enhance services and our understanding of a student's needs. It cannot be used as a barrier to school enrollment or other rights under McKinney-Vento.

The Education Project serves children and youth who lack a fixed, adequate, regular night-time residence. We primarily serve preschool and school-age youth including teens living without a parent or guardian. Services are also available to siblings ages 0-5, and youth ages 18 and older who do not yet have a high school diploma or GED.

Once a student is determined eligible, that student receives services (including free lunch) for the entire school year, even if they become permanently housed.

The children and youth served live in the following situations:

  • Emergency shelter or transitional housing
  • Motel/hotel
  • Campground
  • Public or private place not designed for or ordinarily used as regular sleeping accommodation for humans, including cars, parks, public spaces, abandoned buildings, substandard housing, and bus or train stations.
  • Abandoned in hospital
  • Shared housing with others due to loss of housing, economic hardship or another, similar reason.

Examples of Students Who Qualify

(When in doubt, please call the Education Project (contact information below))

  1. A 3rd grader who fled a violent situation with his mother and is now living in SafeHouse Center's emergency shelter.
  2. A 19-year-old who has not graduated and just moved into Ozone House's Miller House, a transitional living program.
  3. A 16-year-old staying in Ozone House's two-week shelter.
  4. A 5th grader whose family can no long afford their rent and are facing eviction, so the whole family moves in with grandma.
  5. A teen living in his car.
  6. A 4-year-old attending Head Start whose family loses its housing and moves into a motel.
  7. A 3-year-old receiving speech therapy services once a week in Ann Arbor. Their family was evicted and had to move in with family members in Saline.
  8. A 5th grader who moved in with his aunt while his father is at the Delonis Center shelter.
  9. A 6th grader's mother is incarcerated, so she goes to live with an aunt in another school district. The aunt is thinking about getting guardianship but doesn't have the money for the fee.
  10. A 17-year-old who has moved in with her boyfriend.
  11. A 2nd grader living in a single family home with his mother, father and three siblings. The home has no water or electricity and the student hears his mom saying how worried she is about an inspector coming over.
  12. A 6th grader who just got placed by Child Protective Services to live with her grandma last week.
  13. A 3rd grader who has been in a foster care placement for four months.

Examples of Students Who Do Not Qualify

  1. A 1st grader living in an apartment with her mother, who has a Sec. 8 voucher.
  2. A 4th grader who lived in a cramped motel until mid-August but his mother is now renting an apartment in a different school district (must be eligible the first day of school).
  3. A 2nd grader who has lived with the same foster parents for two years.
  4. A 6th grader whose family is being evicted from their home in a week.
  5. A 1st grader whose young mother has never moved out of her parent's home and plans to continue to stay there to save money.

 Visit National Center for Homeless Education for more information (leaving WISD website).

How to Access Services

Most students access our services through their school, a shelter or community agency, where they fill out our Referral Paperwork. Families can also call our office directly at (734) 994-8100, x 1518 during Monday - Thursday, 9am - 4pm. 

To fill out Referral Paperwork online please click here: Education Project Referral

Our paperwork is meant to enhance services and our understanding of a student's needs. It cannot be used as a barrier to school enrollment or other rights under McKinney-Vento.

Available Services


  • Conduct training for school and community agency staff regarding McKinney-Vento.
  • Assist with McKinney-Vento eligibility questions, immediate school enrollment or difficulties in securing transportation to the school of origin.
  • Promote needs and rights of students experiencing homelessness within community.


  • Provide funding and coordination for stop-gap transportation.
  • Offer creative solutions to transportation challenges such as rides to and from after-school tutoring and parent-teacher conferences.

School Supplies

  • Distribute school supplies, including backpacks, notebooks, folders, pens, pencil and calculators.
  • Necessities, including personal hygiene items such as deodorant, shampoo, soap, etc.


  • Provide socks, underwear
  • Provide coats, hats and gloves (as supplies last).
  • Provide clothing through referrals through area thrift shops.

Education-Related Financial Assistance

  • Assist students with school-related financial needs that cannot be met in other ways, such as fees for credit recovery, graduation, extra-curricular activities, field trips and summer school courses.

Post-Secondary Support

  • Help unaccompanied youth fill out their Federal Financial Aid form and college applications.

Early Childhood

  • Connect families with children 0-3 with Early On services.
  • For quality free preschool programs visit.
  • Partner with Child Care Network and Ann Arbor Rec & Ed to connect families with scholarships for quality, licensed childcare.

Housing Crisis

  • Connect families to Housing Access of Washtenaw County (HAWC).
  • Help families access emergency assistance.


  • Work to reconnect students who have dropped out of school with an educational option that best meets their needs.

Other Referrals

  • EPHY makes referrals to meet an array of needs, including medical, counseling, emergency food, household goods and personal items.

Student Rights

If you live temporarily in a shelter, motel, vehicle, campground, on the street, in abandoned buildings, a temporary foster care placement or doubled up with relatives or friends, you are considered eligible for services under the McKinney-Vento Act. These students have the right to:

  • Continue in their "school of origin" (the school they last attended when permanently housed or the school they last attended), if that is your choice and it is feasible, or attend the neighborhood school where you are currently living.
  • Receive transportation to the school of origin if requested.
  • Immediately enroll and attend classes without providing a permanent address, past school or immunization records, proof of guardianship, etc. You still must fill out enrollment packets.
  • Receive free lunch.
  • Receive equal access to education and support services and if eligible, participate in before– and after-school activities.
  • Receive services through the Education Project.

School Responsibilities

By federal law, school staff must identify, immediately enroll and serve students in homeless or temporary living situations.

  • Please review your district's / school's Procedure Template.
  • Attend a county-wide training to learn more. Contact EPHY to find out when the next training is scheduled.

Other Tips for School Staff

  • Appoint a McKinney-Vento Ally in your school.
  • Make sure you are using the Residency Questionnaire in your enrollment packet and sending it home at least once mid-year.
  • Avoid using the word "homeless" (use temporary or transitional instead).
  • Have Education Project referrals handy.
  • Make sure you have a poster in your school: National Center of Homeless Education

Question: Can a student who is homeless be enrolled without records?

Answer: Yes. In fact, the law requires IMMEDIATE enrollment. Schools CANNOT require proof of residency, immunization or student records for enrollment of students who are homeless.

Question: When a family moves to a homeless situation out of district must they change schools?

Answer: No. Individual determinations are made based on parents' wishes, length of commute and student's age. Students have the right to receive transportation to the school they last attended if it is determined this is where they should attend.

Question: Who can call in sick for unaccompanied youth?

Answer: A shelter, agency representative, or caseworker can report student absences to school. If the youth is staying with another family, the adult/parent there may complete a Caregiver Authorization Form and sign/call for the student. If the youth does not have someone in their life to call in for them, the school can let them call in, but get a liaison involved if the absences become excessive.

Question: Who can sign emergency cards or field trip permission forms for unaccompanied youth?

Answer: A shelter, agency representative, or caseworker can sign permission slips for an UY in school. If youth is staying with another family, the adult/parent there may complete a Caregiver Authorization Form and sign for the student. The district liaison could also sign.

Please see National Center of Homeless Education for more assistance.

  • Families with children are the fastest growing segment of the homeless population and more than 1 million children are homeless each year in this country (The National Center for Family Homelessness).
  • Within a single year, 97% of homeless children move, many up to three times (National Center for Family Homelessness). With each change in schools, a student is set back academically by an average of four to six months (Rogers 1991).
  • 75% of runaway and homeless youth have dropped out or will drop out of school (National Network for Runaway and Homeless Youth).
  • Across the country, one in five homeless school-aged children repeats a grade in school, twice the national rate for all children (Homes for the Homeless and The Institute for Children and Poverty).
  • Compared with housed children, children who are homeless experience more developmental delays, anxiety, depression, and behavioral problems, and lower academic achievement (Shinn and Weitzmann 1996).
  • Children without a home are in fair or poor health twice as often as other children, and have higher rates of asthma, ear infections, stomach problems, and speech problems (Better Homes Fund 1999).

School Supplies

  • Backpacks for all ages (laptop compartments preferred for older students)
  • Pocket Folders
  • Loose Leaf Paper (Wide Ruled & College Ruled)
  • Red, Black, & Blue Pens
  • Colored Pencils
  • Pencil Sharpeners
  • Washable Markers
  • Scissors (Blunt & Pointed)
  • Rulers
  • Tab Dividers
  • Pencil Boxes and Pencil Bags
  • 1" Binders
  • Calculators and Scientific Calculators (gently used is acceptable)

 Hygiene Products

  • Shampoo and Conditioner
  • Men’s and Women’s Deodorant
  • Toothbrushes and Toothpaste
  • Tissues (small individual packages)
  • Feminine Hygiene Products
  • Soap (body wash & bar)
  • Lotion
  • Lip Balm
  • Hand Sanitizer
  • Wipes (personal and Clorox)
  • Black hair care products (shampoo, conditioner, gel Shea butter, etc.)


  • New socks - child size only
  • New underwear - children and adult sizes (especially girls 2t-4t)
  • New hats, gloves and mittens


  • Ann Arbor Transportation Authority student bus passes or tokens


  • Gift cards - small denominations to Target, Meijer, Kroger for emergency needs
  • Food Gift cards to Subway, McDonalds, Dominos, Burger King, etc.
  • Cash donations - used for specific student needs
  • Large, sturdy Ziploc plastic bags (used to transport items to students)
  • Holiday Gift Drive in November, email EPHY
  • For all other donations, please call EPHY first at (734) 994-8100, ext. 1518.

Shopping Online?

Donations can also be easily purchased from the wish lists at the following sites: Target, Amazon, or Walmart

Check this out! Use this FREE Capital One Shopping tool to identify the best deals while shopping for items on the Education Project Wish List! Capital One Shopping will find you the best offer and will automatically apply the best coupon code available at checkout.  Other features include alerting you when prices drop on recently viewed and purchased items, and more.

How to get your donation to EPHY

Donations can be mailed or dropped off at the Education Project office at
Washtenaw Intermediate School District:
1819 S. Wagner Road
P.O. Box 1406
Ann Arbor, MI 48106-1406

Note: The Education Project is tax-exempt


Housing Access for Washtenaw County (HAWC): HAWC is the single point of entry for all shelters in the county. Any resident in Washtenaw County experiencing a housing emergency can call (734) 961-1999. Staff will provide the caller with an initial screening to learn their household characteristics and needs.

Ozone House: Ozone House is non-profit in Washtenaw County serving youth age 10-20. Ozone offers a crisis line, non-residential counseling and a temporary shelter for youth ages 10-17 as well as some longer term housing options for youth 17-20. 


Health Resources

Contact Us

The Education Project
Washtenaw Intermediate School District
1819 S. Wagner Rd. Ann Arbor, MI 
Phone: (734) 994-8100 x1518
Fax: (734) 994-8159

ADA & Accessibility

Our School Strives To Ensure Our Website Is Accessible To All Our Visitors 

Washtenaw ISD is committed to providing a website that is fully accessible and we are currently in the process of developing a new website to better meet the needs of our customers. Our new website will include improvements to ADA compliance and accessibility, and during this transition, we remain committed to maintaining our existing website's accessibility and usability. 

ADA Compliance

Non Discrimination

It is the policy and commitment of the Washtenaw Intermediate School District not to discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, sex, disability, age, height, weight, familial status, marital status, genetic information, sexual orientation or any legally protected characteristic, in its educational programs, activities, admissions, or employment policies in accordance with Title IX of the 1972 Educational Amendments, executive order 11246 as amended, Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and all other pertinent state and Federal regulations.

Non Discrimination Information

ADA and Title IX Coordinator ADA and Title IX Coordinator
Brian Marcel
Associate Superintendent
1819 S. Wagner Road 
Ann Arbor, MI  48103
(734) 994-8100 ext. 1402
Cassandra Harmon-Higgins
Executive Director, HR & Legal Services
1819 S. Wagner Road 
Ann Arbor, MI  48103
(734) 994-8100 ext. 1311