Fund and Build New Affordable Housing
No matter your income, the lack of affordable housing hurts our quality of life. It reduces economic growth in our community, limits our diversity, and increases traffic congestion.
In 2015, City Council adopted our Affordable Housing Needs Assessment on a 10-1 vote to guide our planning efforts. (My opponent cast the only opposing vote.) The assessment calls for 2700+ additional units of affordable housing in Ann Arbor over the next 20 years. To meet this need, we will need to substantially increase affordable units for working people and families who earn at or below the 80% area median income level. These people are essential members of our community — including preschool teachers, retail employees, cashiers, food service workers — and they are largely priced out of Ann Arbor.
A city that excludes the workers who support and enrich it is not the community to which we aspire. If we are to be inclusive, we must also be open to development that will create homes people can afford. This will be disruptive and will involve trade-offs. If we do not begin to explore and experiment now, we will not meet even our modest affordability goals.
Much of the direct work we do on affordable housing presently comes through the Ann Arbor Housing Commission. We are approaching the end of a highly successful public-private partnership that has enabled us to invest millions of private dollars in our aging public housing stock: new roofs, new HVAC, insulation, and new stormwater treatments. In addition, the Ann Arbor Housing Commission is working to retrofit its properties to meet Enterprise Green Communities standards of energy efficiency. To date, 281 apartments have been renovated top-to-bottom to include everything from instant hot water heaters to LED lighting. Energy costs have been reduced by over 20% across Housing Commission properties. A 42Kw solar array was installed at Miller Manor.
Right now, our Affordable Housing Fund has a balance of approximately $0. When the Library Lot sale closes and is funded, we will be able to deposit $5M, which the Ann Arbor Housing Commission indicates will support between 200 - 500 units of new, permanent affordable housing throughout the community. Further, with the Fairness Rebate from the recent County millage passed by voters in 2017, we will have $900K+ each year to devote to Affordable Housing.
We need affordable housing throughout the City, including downtown. Downtown should not only be reserved for the wealthy. This spring, I co-sponsored a resolution that pledges to explore how we can use the Old Y-Lot, which is next to the AAATA's Blake Transit Center, to create the greatest quantity and quality of affordable and workforce housing units in downtown Ann Arbor.
Property planning and development is a long process, but the resolution I co-sponsored designs to develop a project on the following criteria:
The Building will maximize the number of affordable and workforce housing units with a maximum of 110% of HUD Fair Market Rent (currently 2-Bedroom $1,103)
The City will seek to recapture the cost of exercising its rights in the Property while ensuring a sustainable financial model
The City will maintain some ownership of the Property (e.g. land lease)
The City will seek to recapture the land costs while ensuring a sustainable financial model
The Building will offer a mix of unit types and rent levels
The Building will accept Housing Choice Vouchers
The Building will dedicate 50% of the ground floor to active and/or public uses, with a possibility for additional public uses