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"A scarce resource": Detroit officials celebrate opening of new affordable apartments

The Charlotte is now 28 units of affordable housing with support from the Detroit Housing for the Future Fund.
John Roach
The Charlotte is now 28 units of affordable housing with support from the Detroit Housing for the Future Fund.

The first abandoned building to be turned into apartments through the Detroit Housing for the Future Fund is accepting new tenants.

The fund is meant to increase the availability of affordable housing in Detroit. In addition to the newly opened building near the historic Boston-Edison neighborhood, six other projects are also in the works.

Camille Walker Banks is the executive director of Detroit Local Initiatives Support Corporation, which manages the Housing for the Future Fund.

"There are many Detroiters who were housing insecure before the pandemic, who were further set back by the event, becoming even more vulnerable," she said during a Tuesday press conference. "Creating long-term affordable housing is foundational to ensuring healthy places for families."

The city said rent for all of the apartments will be below the area's median income.

Rent for nine apartments is capped at 60% of the area's median income, and city said rent for the other 19 "cannot exceed 80%" of the median income level. As a result, officials said, the units are "affordable."

The fund loaned $2.5 million to turn the previously abandoned, 1923-built, three-story apartment building into a 28-units structure.

The city said the renovation at The Charlotte saw full rehabs to all units, a new roof, new windows, and a new HVAC system. Amenities include on-site laundry facilities, common areas, and green space.

Many of the units are still available to tenants and not yet rented out.

This isn't the only renovation receiving support from the fund. Six other projects are in the works, with 173 out of the 211 combined units among them set aside as affordable housing.

Since 2018, the city says it has helped to preserve 6,127 units of affordable housing in neighborhoods across the city, including 5,960 that are rented at or below 60% of the median income in their area. There also have been 864 newly built affordable housing units in that time period, 525 of which are at or below 60% AMI, the city said.

Julie Schneider is the director of Detroit’s Housing and Revitalization Department.

"It costs about $350,000 to develop an affordable housing unit. It is a scarce resource," she said. "We needed to expand the resources that were available at that time. We were one of the first in the country to develop this type of fund, and launching it wasn't an easy initiative."

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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