Barrier Busters


Barrier Busters is a group of 100+ social service agencies committed to improving services and responding to emergencies for Washtenaw County residents in need. Each member agency identifies a “Barrier Buster,” who is an agency's point of contact and facilitates collaborative case management between member agencies.

To serve residents in need, member agencies have access to the "Barrier Busters Emergency Unmet Needs" Fund - public and private funds that provide social workers, case managers, and other direct service providers access to emergency assistance funds for clients. 

This fund provides agencies with an efficient way to prevent evictions and utility shut-offs; and assist with other emergency costs threatening residents’ housing and financial stability. Residents in need work with their existing provider to access financial assistance.

For every dollar the County invests in Barrier Busters, we leverage three additional dollars in emergency funding. These funds prevent costly evictions and health emergencies and save local governments and taxpayers money.


Barrier Busters meet monthly:

  • share program & agency information
  • consult peers on shared and/or complex cases
  • educate peers about best practices and new strategies for addressing barriers to service 


Barrier Busters works with residents requesting financial assistance to ensure they can sustain their housing and utilities after assistance is provided.

We institute a six-month evaluation of approved financial requests and have consistently seen positive outcomes for households we assist since beginning this evaluation in November 2009.

Support Barrier Busters

Barrier Busters funding has helped hundreds of County residents annually with basic needs emergency assistance. The nonprofit Michigan Community Action collects donations for Barrier Busters, and all funds received will go directly to County residents in need.

Donations can be made by clicking on the following link and typing “Washtenaw” into the "Tribute/On Behalf Of" box when making your donation.

Thank you to the funders who have increased contributions to Barrier Busters during COVID-19, including Washtenaw County, City of Ann Arbor, City of Ypsilanti, Pittsfield Township, Ann Arbor Area Community Foundation, United Way of Washtenaw County, Michigan Community Action, and individual donors.

Click here to view Barrier Busters COVID-19 Summary Reports.

Activity Summary

Click here to view Barrier Busters COVID-19 Summary Reports 

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If you have an immediate need, call the 2-1-1 Helpline.