Housing Justice

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Housing Justice

Affordable Housing, Renters Rights, Anti-Eviction. Water and Utilities Protections

"Because affordable, accessible and quality housing is critical to the health and well being of all Detroiters, we deserve a transparent housing plan that centers the needs of residents and is driven by capable public officials who are accountable to community, not for-profit developers."

Detroit has a Housing Crisis, where is the plan?

Detroit, the nation’s largest majority Black city at one time enjoyed the designation as having one of the highest rates of Black home ownership in the nation. Yet, today Detroit is a majority renter’s city and finds itself in a housing crisis.  Detroiters have experienced high rates of foreclosure and the majority of Detroit renters are extremely rent burdened, paying more than 50% of their monthly income for housing. In addition, the COVID -19 pandemic has only exacerbated the housing crisis given the disproportionate impact of COVID on Black Detroit and the deepening unemployment crisis. 

With the expiration of the statewide COVID eviction moratorium, according to the University of Michigan Poverty Solutions, roughly 4500 eviction cases have been filed in 36th District court between mid-August and November 2020. These numbers, however, fail to identify the additional households that self-evict because they lack legal and financial resources to challenge the eviction in housing court. Households with children face extraordinary housing challenges as the naturally occurring affordable housing sector continues to shrink.

The perception that the housing crisis is limited to low income residents does not square with the complaints heard from others including middle income earners. In Detroit individuals face a rental market where requirements are stiff.  Not only are many rental rates beyond the recommended 30% income threshold, but applicants must give evidence of a pristine credit record, absence of any criminal history and have up front money in the thousands of dollars for move-in cost. On the flip side, those interested in purchasing a home encounter a different set of barriers with buyers often being forced to “bid up” on the purchase price – a practice reminiscent of conditions just before the housing crash a decade ago.  

The city’s commitment to developing a response to the housing crisis is insufficient having over relied on real estate speculators and their market philosophy to address the housing gap. This strategy allows the city to award millions in public tax abatements for luxury housing units with a minor requirement for affordable units based on income levels that lock out the average Detroiter. Promoted as mix used development, these models are pitched as creating desirable high density and walkable communities alongside vibrant commercial corridors. 

However, a real criticism of this housing development model is that it is driven by real estate developers with a focus on profit. As a result, it does not offer realistic housing options that make sense for most seniors, households with young children, and those with disabilities. Right now ten (10) Detroit neighborhoods have been selected for this development model that are outside of downtown/midtown and are earmarked for increased public and private investment. These neighborhoods are also attracting a younger, wealthier and whiter population. 

Because affordable, accessible and quality housing is critical to the health and well being of all Detroiters, we deserve a transparent housing plan that centers the needs of residents and is driven by capable public officials who are accountable to community, not for-profit developers.  

In the face of COVID recovery, in the coming months the Detroit People’s Platform will call for our public officials to adopt the following housing policy reforms to create better housing outcomes:

  1. Increased funding for the Housing Trust Fund 
  2. Adoption by ordinance of a Detroit specific affordability formula
  3. A Housing plan that includes a carve out for permanently affordable housing units across household types
  4. Better transparency with annual reporting requirements from Housing and Revitalization Department 

Please follow us for ongoing updates about how to organize with us to WIN homes for all!

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