Detroit officials announced a sweeping $203 million plan on Thursday that aims to stabilize housing for city residents.
Detroit City Council members joined Mayor Mike Duggan and nonprofit leaders to outline the plan, which includes a range of programs, from renovating Detroit Land Bank Authority properties to providing down payment assistance to 600 Detroiters.
“We’ve built a lot of affordable housing, we’ve converted a lot of vacant homes, we’ve preserved all the affordable units we have, but there’s no doubt that affordable housing is a more pressing issue than it has been. been in this town for many decades,” Duggan said at a news conference outside a city-owned building in the Dexter-Linwood neighborhood.
The building, vacant for about a decade, is expected to become subsidized housing under the plan.
Many programs are supported by federal pandemic recovery assistance the city received last year. Funding for the plan ends this year, Duggan said.
“It’s going to take at least $500 million in public money over the next three years and a lot of private money to go with it,” he said.
The City of Detroit worked with members of the Detroit City Council Mary Waters, Angela Whitfield-Calloway and Latisha Johnson to craft the plan. At city council meetings, residents had raised many housing concerns.
“Affordable housing is more than a buzzword. It’s the very livelihood of thousands of Detroit residents,” said Whitfield-Calloway, who represents District 2.
At-Large Board Member Waters said one of the housing developments will be named after Ca’mya Davis, an 11-month-old child who drowned in a flooded Detroit basement after falling through a hole in the floor. Davis’ mother, Waters said, felt she had nowhere to live.
“We have a sacred duty to protect our babies, just as we protect the health, safety and well-being of all Detroit residents,” Waters said.
She said it’s important for Detroit residents to have housing available at their income level.
Sandra Henriquez, CEO of the Detroit Housing Commission — which is renovating 10 to 12 vacant buildings into subsidized housing — said she constantly receives emails from residents asking for housing options.
“We’re filling a niche that the big developers don’t want to touch. … They don’t see it as profitable. So for us, it fills the neighborhood and helps kick-start neighborhood redevelopment and revitalization,” she says.
Julie Schneider, director of the City of Detroit’s Department of Housing and Revitalization, called the plan “a comprehensive approach to housing stability” that aims to connect residents to resources while supporting the creation of new developments in the city. environment rising construction costs.
Affordable housing is a constant concern in Detroit.
About a third of Detroit residents have missed at least one housing payment in the past year and about 39,000 households spend more than half their income on rent and mortgages, according to a survey of city residents conducted last year by the University of Michigan.
This figure exceeds what the federal government considers affordable. The US Department of Housing and Urban Development said that families who spend more than 30% of their income on rent and utilities may struggle to pay other bills, whether it’s food or medical care.
The accommodation itself is also scarce. The Detroit, Warren and Dearborn areas alone need about 100,000 affordable rental units for very low-income households — or a family of four earning $27,750 — according to the National Low Income Housing Coalition.
Here is an overview of what the plan will include:
- $132 million in American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) and state and federal dollars will fund 1,600 new housing units in 30 developments, 250 of which will be permanent supportive housing for Detroiters transitioning from homelessness. Several of these projects have already been announced. Rent prices in income-based housing can range from about $850 to $500, said Donald Rencher, director of the City of Detroit’s group for housing, planning and development. The City of Detroit Housing and Revitalization Department, in conjunction with the Detroit City Council, aims to “streamline” the approval process for affordable housing developments.
- Twenty to 50 properties owned by the Detroit Land Bank Authority will be sold to local community development organizations to rehabilitate them. They will then be rented out for at least a decade to those with between 50% and 60% of the region’s median income. This translates to a family of three earning between $40,300 and $48,360. The work will be supported by $3 million in ARPA funds. Repairs are expected to begin in spring 2023 and the first homes could be available in winter 2023.
- $13 million in ARPA funds will go toward down payment assistance for 600 Detroiters, a third of whom will get dollars to own the homes they currently rent. It may look like helping the Detroiters with land contract deals, Rencher said. The remaining residents will receive assistance to purchase homes that they do not rent. The program is expected to launch in the fall.
- A new division of Detroit Housing Services, funded by $20 million in ARPA dollars, will serve as a central point for residents to access housing assistance, such as housing counseling and prevention assistance seizures. It will include at least six neighborhood housing service centers run by non-profit organizations. A new helpline, expected to be available in the fall, will help Detroiters facing immediate displacement or homelessness.
- The Detroit Housing Commission plans to renovate 10 to 12 vacant apartment buildings – using $20 million from the sale of the Brewster-Douglass site in Bedrock, which was finalized at the end of 2019 – which will be reserved for a family of three earning $24,180. The housing commission has identified four buildings so far, Henriquez said. Construction is expected to begin in the spring of next year.
- $5 million in ARPA dollars will be used to bring over 1,000 rental units up to code. One program will renovate vacant second-floor apartments in commercial corridors into housing, while another initiative will see small landlords obtain matching grants to bring their properties into line with rents. A recent report from the University of Michigan’s Poverty Solutions initiative found that about 6% of Detroit’s roughly 87,000 rental properties had a certificate of compliance, as of March 15.
- $10 million in ARPA funds will go to the city’s Detroit at Work program, which helps residents find immediate jobs or attend GED and literacy programs.
Lisa Johanon, acting director of Central Detroit Christian Development, said her organization has homes online that are “ready to build” now that funding is available.
Detroit received $826 million in ARPA dollars – the fifth largest amount among US cities. Of this amount, $400 million was earmarked to address budget shortfalls, while the remaining $426 million was allocated to community investments, such as employment and job creation, burns remediation and home repairs.
Nushrat Rahman covers economic mobility issues for the Detroit Free Press and Detroit Bridge as a body member with Report for America, an initiative of The GroundTruth Project. Make a tax-deductible contribution to support his work at bit.ly/freepRFA.