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Evicted tenants call for affordable housing: "It's very hard when you don't know your next move"

Jai Kaiser speaks at a Detroit Eviction Defense protest outside the Coleman A. Young Municipal Center on May 31, 2022.
Briana Rice
Michigan Radio
Jai Kaiser speaks at a Detroit Eviction Defense protest outside the Coleman A. Young Municipal Center on May 31, 2022.

Detroit has been paying for recently-evicted tenants to stay in hotels.

Now, those residents will need to find other housing by June 30.

Around 50 people gathered at the Coleman A. Young Building in Downtown Detroit to protest alongside the Detroit Eviction Defense. Some of the protesters entered the building, calling on the city to help find housing for these residents.

Jai Kaiser was evicted in May with her child.

"We don’t want apologies, we want action, we want help. We want affordable housing. What’s affordable? Not $1,400 when I make $500 a month," she said.

Kaiser and others living in hotels say though many of the rooms don’t have kitchens, it’s better than being out on the street.

They don’t know where they’ll end up when they are once again evicted from their home.

Detroit Eviction Defense organizers want the city to hire more counselors to assist these tenants as they search for homes. And they want the city to continue to pay for the hotels until everyone finds a home they can afford.

Joe McGuire is an attorney and organizer with the Detroit Eviction Defense.

"We know for a fact that once someone is made homeless, even for a brief period, it is much, much harder for them to bounce back from that," he said.

Following an eviction, 276 families have lived in hotels in metro Detroit with federal American Rescue Plan Act funding that was given to the City of Detroit, said Dan Austin, spokesman for the Detroit Planning, Housing & Development departments.

As of Tuesday's protest, 88 families are still living in the hotels. Several tenants were told that they needed to be out of their homes at the hotel by June 1.

Austin says 40 of the tenants will be able to stay until June 30 when the federal aid ends.

Laqunna Smith is living in a hotel with her 3-year-old son following an eviction. She's working and trying to save, but even the $25 application fees that many apartments charge to background check her, are a financial strain for the single mother.

"It's very hard when you don't know you're next move," she said. "I feel terrible inside."

Briana Rice is Michigan Public's criminal justice reporter. She's focused on what Detroiters need to feel safe and whether they're getting it.
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