Comments on: DDA OKs Streetscape Contract, Parking Permits it's like being there Tue, 16 Sep 2014 04:56:38 +0000 hourly 1 By: Jack Eaton Jack Eaton Wed, 13 Nov 2013 20:28:47 +0000 I agree with Sandi Smith. It isn’t necessary to decide whether the Council and the DDA have failed in the past to address homelessness and affordable housing for us now to proceed with a constructive discussion.

I think that Dave DeVarti’s comments to the DDA are a good starting point. He has identified where the new units belong, who should pay for them (DDA pays for the property and the DDA and City both contribute to the cost of building), and thereby, he has asked that we acknowledge that we really want them somewhere in our City. That is a good starting point. I agree that we need to address Ms. Smith’s other questions, too.

Mr. DeVarti has been involved in housing issues for many years and that is why I applauded his efforts to begin this discussion. No one person will have all of the answers, but the discussion is overdue.

By: Sandi Smith Sandi Smith Wed, 13 Nov 2013 19:59:09 +0000 For me “Sustainability”, when applied to affordable housing units in the City of Ann Arbor, means that when we build new (publicly owned) units, we have a long term financing plan in place to maintain them. We have not done a good job with maintaining the units that we already own and we are several million dollars behind in vital repairs and maintenance.

I would rather raise the level of discussion on this topic. This is not about the sinister plot of the DDA to demolish neighborhoods. While one could focus on my intent behind the use of a word, I would prefer a more *robust* discussion about affordable housing in the City. I think it is fair that I asked an incoming Councilmember about his ideas for addressing the issue of affordable housing, but it is certainly easier to attack me than to face the really hard issue.

Some questions that we could focus on:
* How do we build more units?
* How do we provide maintenance for new and existing units?
* Where do new units belong?
* Who should pay for them?
* Do we really want them anywhere in our City or our we just saying so to make ourselves feel good?

By: John Floyd John Floyd Wed, 13 Nov 2013 05:44:31 +0000 The idea of sustainability is that a system can be more-or-less closed; that is, not needing a constant flow of resources from outside the system, to keep the system going. The system can sustain itself. For Ann Arbor to be “Sustainable”, neither food, nor energy, nor building materials, nor population, nor anything else, should be brought to town. “More people” is not part of “Sustainability”.

The paradigm of “Your city is either growing, or it’s dyeing”, which seems to drive the local business community (the real estate sector in particular), is not merely unrelated to sustainability: it is the exact opposite of sustainability.

There seems to be an element of the Ann Arbor community that uses the word “Sustainability” merely as a cover for old fashioned economic boosterism.

By: Jeff Hayner Jeff Hayner Tue, 12 Nov 2013 20:37:16 +0000 Vivienne has got it right. There is nothing sustainable about tearing down existing housing stock. If the DDA really wanted affordable housing downtown, they wouldn’t be in such a hurry to cover every square foot of the downtown with un-affordable (for many) housing.

By: Alan Goldsmith Alan Goldsmith Tue, 12 Nov 2013 15:50:50 +0000 “An appeal had been submitted, Pollay reported, and as a result of that appeal, the DDA would produce a “clean copy” of the records as requested in the appeal. Board chair Sandi Smith then stated that it appeared that the DDA has been inundated with requests made under Michigan’s FOIA. She wanted the executive committee of the board to review the FOIA policy and consider refreshing the FOIA policy.”

Ah…’refreshing’ the FOIA policy…Guessing NOT to make it more transparent? Correct me if I’m defining ‘refresh’ incorrectly.

By: Donna Estabrook Donna Estabrook Tue, 12 Nov 2013 14:31:55 +0000 Avalon Housing has a very good record of maintaining (and sometimes building and maintaining)low-income housing. It was too bad that the North Main project didn’t progress. I was sad to see all those houses on Main St torn down with nothing to replace them. There are several Avalon Housing properties near me. You would never know that they were low-income housing.

By: Sandi Smith Sandi Smith Tue, 12 Nov 2013 03:30:23 +0000 Near North was an Avalon project.

And yes, sustainability. Building new units without a plan for long term maintenance is doomed for failure.

By: Vivienne Armentrout Vivienne Armentrout Tue, 12 Nov 2013 01:30:32 +0000 Re (2) Ah, yes. Sustainability. Like Near North? (North Main) That was a DDA solution to affordable housing in the “near downtown neighborhoods”. I’m losing track. I think the City just paid to have those abandoned buildings demolished. I’m not sure of the status of the land at this time. It was hardly sustainable to ruin that viable section of a neighborhood for that purpose.

The DDA has been very clear that it wants to move all affordable housing, and certainly that for the most distressed population, way away from the valuable real estate downtown. There was even a thought to assign affordable housing premiums for downtown development to be payable into a fund for locating such housing away from the downtown area that such premiums were designed to diversify.

And the solution? To impact the near downtown neighborhoods with this and other troublesome formulas. DDA would transform the near downtown into the downtown’s overflow basin.

By: Sandi Smith Sandi Smith Mon, 11 Nov 2013 23:52:20 +0000 Jack, this is an incredibly complex problem. I welcome your ideas as to how we can add affordable and workforce housing to not only the Downtown, but near downtown neighborhoods.

I am not sure that the SRO model is one that we want to replace. We do, however, need to replace those lost units and design a sustainability plan to maintain them.

By: Jack Eaton Jack Eaton Mon, 11 Nov 2013 19:44:07 +0000 I applaud Dave DeVarti’s attempt to find solutions to our affordable housing problems. After the old Y was demolished, the lack of availability of single occupant rooms has not been addressed.

I hope that we will not allow the downtown to develop into an area full of 1/2 million dollar (or more) condominiums and $1,000 (or more) per bed, per month apartments.