In 1992, the City of Ann Arbor proposed tearing down three houses to build a parking structure. Residents mounted a public campaign to “house people, not cars.” The City offered a compromise to preserve and move the housing units and make them available to a non-profit willing to rehab and operate them as affordable housing.
Out of this compromise, Carole McCabe and other community advocates organized a response to homelessness that shifted from shelter-only to long-term housing. Their goal was to provide permanent supportive housing for chronically homeless adults. They named the organization “Avalon,” after the mythic island where traditional ways of healing were preserved. The name “Avalon” suggests an ideal – a place where people can find community and rebuild their lives. The first Avalon property on West William Street, seen above, is still home to many of the original tenants.
Over the past 25 years, over a thousand individuals have achieved stability and improved their lives with Avalon Housing. In that time Avalon has consistently grown and gained expertise in engaging and housing people with high needs who are experiencing homelessness. Avalon’s model of supportive housing is now recognized as a national best practice.