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Detroit announces $203 million affordable housing plan, new Housing Services Division

Detroit City Councilmember Fred Durhall lll, Councilmember Angela Whitfield-Calloway, Mayor Mike Duggan and Councilmember Mary Waters.
City of Detroit
City of Detroit
Detroit City Councilmembers Fred Durhall lll and Angela Whitfield Calloway, Mayor Mike Duggan, and Councilmember Mary Waters.

Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan and members of Detroit City Council have announced a $203 million plan to address affordable housing needs in the city.

The plan includes renovating vacant apartment buildings and land bank homes and providing mortgage down-payment assistance for renters.

It also includes funding for a new Housing Services Division, which will have a hotline for people to call if they're facing displacement or need housing resources.

Duggan announced the seven-step plan alongside city councilmembers Mary Waters, Angela Whitfield Calloway and Latisha Johnson.

City officials said the plan is partially funded by more than $58 million in federal American Rescue Plan Act funds and that it won't won’t increase taxes.

Duggan said the city needs to do more to build quality affordable housing.

"There is no question, affordable housing is a more urgent issue than it has been in this city in many decades. You just saw the announcement from the real estate organizations that for the first time ever the median house cost topped $100,000 dollars," Duggan said, referencing a report this week.

The budget will also support repairs needed to bring rental units up to code, the mayor said. And the city will connect renters with what they’re calling “good-paying jobs” to meet rising rent prices.

Sandra Henriquez is the CEO of the Detroit Housing Commission.

"Knowing where you’re going to sleep at night, raise your children," she said, "all of that stuff. You really need to focus on or want to focus on, but if you have to worry about where you’re going to sleep at night, it becomes intensely difficult."

The housing commission is in the process of identifying potential properties to renovate, according to a city spokesperson. There's no word yet on when they might be available.

The $203 million investment is for 2022 alone, is on top of affordable housing initiatives already announced in the past, and does not include future annual allocations for affordable housing and preservation in Detroit, according to a press release.

“True affordable housing hasn’t been within reach. The AMI used is just too high,” Waters said, using an acronym for "area median income," which measures the midpoint of a region's income distribution.

“Providing housing at 30% to 60% AMI will be a relief for citizens. With the addition of a hotline for housing needs, the city will now be a resource, a one-stop shop, for all housing needs,” she continued.

More details on the plan are available on the city’s website at www.detroitmi.gov/detroithousingplan.

The 7-part plan, according to the city:

  1. Detroit housing services ($20 million in ARPA funds)
    A central Detroit Housing Services division will be established bringing a range of services to Detroiters most at-risk and in greatest need. This new division will include a network of at least six Neighborhood Housing Services centers run by nonprofit providers that will serve as one-stop-shop resources to connect current and future Detroit homeowners with a full range of programs, including housing counseling and foreclosure prevention services. A new hotline also will offer assistance for those looking to avoid housing displacement, as well as emergency response for those facing immediate homelessness, and connections to additional housing resources.
  2. Detroit Housing Commission apartment building rehabs ($20M in DHC funds)
    The Detroit Housing Commission (DHC) will use $20 million from selling the Brewster-Douglass site on acquiring 10 to 12 vacant apartment buildings in neighborhoods across the city, rehabbing them, and then leasing units at deeply affordable rates of 30 percent AMI. Today’s announcement was held in front of a vacant, City-owned apartment building on Tyler near Davison and Linwood in Council District 2, one of the multifamily structures that the DHC is considering renovating for new affordable housing as part of the housing plan’s seven initiatives. The building, dating to 1929, has been a vacant blight on the Dexter-Linwood community for years.
  3. Detroit Land Bank affordable home program ($3M in ARPA funds)
    This initiative will begin with 20 to 50 Detroit Land Bank Authority (DLBA)-owned homes that will be sold to local community development organizations (CDOs), which will use City subsidies to rehab the properties. The properties will then be rented for at least 10 years at 50 percent to 60 percent area median income (AMI), rates that are considered deeply affordable, with the option for the renter to buy the property and become a homeowner.
  4. More affordable housing and expedited approval process ($132M in ARPA and state and federal funds)
    The City Council will work with the Detroit Housing & Revitalization Department to streamline the process for Council to approve affordable housing developments that include units to be rented at 60 percent AMI or below. The current process often requires nine steps or more to get Council approval. In addition to speeding up the process, the plan calls for the funding of 1,600 new affordable housing units across at least 30 individual developments, with 250 of the units designated as permanent supportive housing with a range of services available to Detroiters who are transitioning out of homelessness.
  5. Down-payment and homeowner assistance programs ($13 million in ARPA funds)
    This program will help 600 Detroiters who currently rent become homeowners through a down-payment assistance program. A third of those helped will receive funding and support to transition to owning the homes they are now renting through capital improvements and homeownership counseling. The remainder will receive down-payment assistance to buy homes that they aren’t currently renting.
  6. Programs to bring more than 1,000 rental units into compliance ($5 million in ARPA funds)
    Through a suite of programs, $5 million in funding will be used to bring rental units into compliance with rental codes so that Detroit renters get the quality units that they deserve and that the City requires. A second-floor rental rehab program will transform vacant second-story apartment units located in commercial corridors into affordable housing. Property management and improvement training programs will be offered to small-scale landlords, who will then be eligible to apply for matching grants to renovate their properties and bring them into compliance with the rental registration ordinance.
  7. Self-sufficiency support for those facing rising rents ($10 million in ARPA funds)
    With rents increasing as demand for housing in the city increases, the City of Detroit’s Detroit at Work program can help residents through immediate placement in good-paying jobs or in “earn to learn” programs, including literacy and GED programs.
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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