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affordable housing

detroit city skyline
Shawn Wilson / Wikimedia Commons / http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

Sonya Mays doesn't like saying the "g word" – gentrification, that is. 

But if we're talking about it, she says her company Develop Detroit might just have the solution. 

“We’re saying that we believe that there’s a way to be very intentional and thoughtful and to partner with particularly residents who have been in a community the longest. We’re saying there’s an approach here that can be taken that doesn’t directly lead to rapid displacement," Mays said. 

It's called equitable development, and she says cities like Harlem and Washington, D.C., have used it to combat gentrification with mostly positive results. 

transfiguration school building
City of Detroit

An old Catholic school in Detroit’s Bangladeshi neighborhood will be redeveloped into 23 units of affordable housing.

 

Mayor Mike Duggan announced the $6.4 million project by Ethos Development Partners and Building Blocks Nonprofit Housing Corporation today. The groups will acquire the Transfiguration School from the Catholic Archdiocese of Detroit and renovate it.

Photograph of Downtown Detroit
Ifmuth / FLICKR - HTTP://J.MP/1SPGCL0

Developers of residential housing who receive public subsidies for their projects in Detroit will have to make 20% of new units affordable, under a proposed ordinance unanimously passed by the Detroit City Council today.

Grand Rapids
Steven Depolo / Flickr

Two Grand Rapids area nonprofits will use new grant money to help supply affordable housing.

The grants came from Project Reinvest: Neighborhoods, a program of the Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit NeighborWorks America. It awarded a $500,000 grant to both Habitat for Humanity of Kent County and LINC Up. 

NeighborWorks America is a coalition of public and private partners that want to create affordable housing for communities throughout the country.

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

 Homes sales in Michigan is becoming a seller’s market.

After languishing for years, Michigan’s real estate market is apparently turning in favor of home sellers.

Darin Blomquist is with Attom Data Solutions, which tracks the real estate market.  Blomquist says home sale prices are improving in Michigan, including in parts of the state you wouldn’t expect.

DUSTIN DWYER / Michigan Radio

A Grand Rapids non-profit group is hoping to boost the inventory of affordable housing in West and Mid-Michigan.

The Inner City Christian Federation is working to secure 177 houses in the Grand Rapids and Lansing areas.

CEO Ryan VerWys said the price of homes in Grand Rapids is going up “way faster” than people’s income.

Dustin Dwyer / Michigan Radio

A non-profit in Grand Rapids says it’s reached an agreement to buy 177 homes to preserve affordable housing in the region.
The Inner City Christian Federation, or ICCF, plans to buy the homes from a Chicago-based investment company, known as RDG. Michigan Radio first reported in April that RDG had quietly become the single largest investor in single family homes in Grand Rapids, with more than 140 properties in the city alone.

ICCF says its purchase agreement is for 177 homes in Grand Rapids, Wyoming and Eaton Rapids, near Lansing. 

I am switching roles a bit at Michigan Radio. The change requires me to sell my lovely house in Grand Rapids to work out of Ann Arbor.

Lindsey Smith

City commissioners in Grand Rapids are expected to vote next week on a budget that includes more money for affordable housing.

A preliminary plan released by the city in April included slightly more than $866,000 for the 2018 budget to launch an Affordable Housing Community Fund. The plan proposes about $1 million per year for future years. 

Grand Rapids is in the middle of a housing crisis, with relatively few homes or apartments available in the city, and prices skyrocketing.

For Rent sign
Kurt Bauschardt / Flickr - http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

In order to afford the average monthly rent in Michigan, a household would need to earn $16.24 per hour. That's nearly double the state’s current minimum wage.

Out of Reach, a new report from the National Low Income Housing Coalition, focuses on the state of rental housing in the U.S., a market where prices are skyrocketing while wages remain stagnate.

Grand Rapids Mayor Rosalynn Blissat gives her 2017 State of the City address.
Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

Grand Rapids' mayor wants to make the city more welcoming to immigrants. Rosalynn Bliss announced a new initiative at her State of the City address Thursday night. She says the goal is to connect immigrants with services and provide information about schools and local government. 

“I want to make sure there is a safe place for them to come and learn about our community, our systems and how to get engaged,” Bliss said.

She expects to launch the initiative in the next month or two.

Courtesy of Michele Oberholtzer

The Next Idea

“Detroit's greatest paradox is its abundance of space and its scarcity of quality housing.”

That’s the opening salvo in writer Michele Oberholtzer’s opinion piece for Model D.

At one time, Detroit’s population was almost double what it is now. As people left, so did quality housing. That puts people still in the city at risk, Oberholtzer said.

“The housing is often under code, or not up to par,” she said. “And the moment that a person leaves the home that they live in, that property is subject to scrapping and blight.”

Ann Millspaugh / Flickr - http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

The Next Idea

Say you’ve lived in your neighborhood for ten years and suddenly it’s become the place to live.

Rents are rising, and you’re looking at having to move. What then?

Stay Midtown might have the answer. The program aims to help working people in Detroit’s up-and-coming Midtown area stay there.

"Anything that you would want, from shopping, to health care, to buying a car, you name it, we have it all right here. But yet, we have an incredible small town feel, and that's a very special thing," Brenda Quick told us.
flickr user zenmasterdod / http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

 

What happens to a picturesque city when its charms draw more and more people who want to live or work there, and when the push for new housing threatens the very thing that made that city so special?

Traverse City is wrestling with these questions right now, including the lack of affordable housing.

Some locals fear that Traverse City is losing its small town feel.
flickr user zenmasterdod / http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

 

For many visitors, Traverse City is the heart of Up North.

The natural beauty is complemented by the town’s vibrant culture of fine foods, craft beer and endless festivals.

But for locals, all that popularity comes at a cost.

BasicGov / Flickr - http://bit.ly/1rFrzRK

During the Great Recession, a lot of people ran into financial trouble and lost their homes to foreclosure. Some still are. And in Wayne County, the number of homes at risk of tax foreclosure is staggering. The Michigan State Housing Development Authority (MSHDA) has several programs to help eligible people.

One of those programs is called Step Forward. It funnels federal dollars from TARP (Troubled Asset Relief Program) into the hands of low-income homeowners and potential homeowners.

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

The issue of tax credits for affordable housing is expected to come up again at Monday night’s Lansing city council meeting.

The city council recently rejected a request for special tax credits for a low-income development in Lansing’s Old Town section.

Julie Powers is with the Greater Lansing Housing Authority. She claims several city council members worried about who the 24-unit development would attract.

“What we were told at the committee of the whole meeting was that “those people” aren’t wanted in Old Town,” says Powers.

Images Money / Creative Commons http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

SOUTHFIELD, Mich. (AP) - Two affordable housing developments in suburban Detroit are getting a $19.8 million overhaul.

McDonnell Tower Apartments and the tower and townhomes at River Park Place in Southfield are being upgraded as part of the effort.

The Southfield Nonprofit Housing Corporation and Southfield-based Larc Community Development Group worked to secure Michigan State Housing Development Authority tax credit financing and a construction loan to renovate the housing developments.

Public Domain / http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

What defines affordable housing?

According to the federal government, affordable housing means not spending more than 30% of your income on housing. In a more colloquial context, however, affordable housing means more than just a percentage of your income. For many Michigan citizens, affordable housing means stability. For so many, affordable housing can change one’s life.

flickr user woodleywonderworks / http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

The Next Idea

All over Michigan, there are cities and towns that suffer from a lack of affordable housing. The demand keeps growing, but the supply just isn't there. 

Wayne State professor George Galster has a few ideas that could help Michigan tackle the issue:

Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

The new mayor of Grand Rapids wants to make housing more affordable in Michigan's second-largest city. Mayor Rosalynn Bliss' first state of the city speech was Tuesday night.

Bliss talked about the hardships she faced growing up in a family of ten.

“Whether you’re a family of four or a family of ten, a senior, a blue-collar worker, a young professional; I want you to be able to live in our city and proudly call it your home,” Bliss said.

Sleeping Bear Dunes, a popular tourist spot in Northern Michigan
flickr user Rodney Campbell / http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

Northern Michigan’s tourism industry is huge. Likely this summer alone you or someone you know has headed up that way at least once.

At first blush, that sounds as though all that tourism is nothing but great for the economy. It creates a lot of jobs at businesses like restaurants and hotels.

A 140 square foot "tiny house."
Gregory Johnson / The Environment Report

A member of the Ann Arbor City Council says he will introduce a resolution directing city staff to draft a plan for establishing a small village of tiny houses on city-owned property across from the YMCA.

Ryan Stanton of the Ann Arbor News reports that council member Stephen Kunselman announced Tuesday his plans to bring forward the resolution at the next council meeting on June 15.