Alan W. Houseman grew up in Colorado Springs, Colorado. After graduating from high school, he attended Oberlin College in Ohio. While at Oberlin, Houseman was active in civil rights and civil liberties initiatives (he was the ACLU chairman and worked with the Oberlin Action for Civil Rights). He graduated from Oberlin in 1965, and went on to attend New York University Law School, where he received his J.D. in 1968.
In 1968, Houseman became a Reginald Heber Smith Community Lawyer Fellow with Wayne County Neighborhood Legal Services in Detroit, MI. In 1969, he founded Michigan Legal Services, a statewide legal services program that represented organizations working on welfare, health, housing, consumer, prison, mental health, education, and family policy issues. Between 1968 and 1976, he was general counsel for the Michigan Welfare Rights Organization and co-chair of the legal committee of the National Welfare Rights Organization.
From 1976 to 1981, Houseman was a senior staff member at the Legal Services Corporation (LSC) and director of its Research Institute. Prior to his time at LSC, Houseman was Vice-Chair of the Project Advisory Group (PAG), Chair of the Civil Committee of the National Legal Aid and Defender Association and Chair of the Organization of Legal Services Back-up Centers.
In 1981, Alan Houseman became the executive director of the Center for Law and Social Policy (CLASP). He also served as General Counsel to the Coalition on Legal Services, the Project Advisory and NLADA.
In 2005-2006, he was staff to the American Bar Association (ABA) Presidential Task Force on Access to Justice and a member of the ABA Task Force to Revise the Standards for the Provision of Civil Legal Aid. He was the head of the Legal Services Corporation Transition Team for President Obama. He is a US representative to the International Legal Aid Group.
Mr. Houseman has been an Adjunct Professor at Georgetown University Law Center and the University of Michigan Law School, and he previously taught at Wayne State University Law School. He has received numerous awards and honors including the National Equal Justice Award, the Oberlin College Distinguish Achievement Award and the Coalition on Human Needs 2012 Human Needs Hero Award. He is a member of the Board of Trustees of Oberlin College, Executive Vice-President of the Consortium for the National Equal Justice Library, Chair Emeritus of the Children’s Leadership Council and a board member of the Coalition on Human Needs.