The Ann Arbor housing commission board’s last meeting of 2011 was the first one attended by Jennifer L. Hall in her new role as executive director of the commission. Hall – who previously served as housing manager for the Washtenaw County/city of Ann Arbor office of community development – was selected by the board in October to replace Marge Novak, who had resigned in July.
Most of the Dec. 21 meeting focused on a presentation by Hall. She gave an overview of local affordable housing demand, and looked at how the housing commission’s operations might address some of those needs. In part, her talk set the stage for possible land acquisition. Later in the meeting, the commission entered into closed session to discuss two potential properties it might buy to add to the city’s public housing stock.
On one of the properties Hall suggested constructing a rental project consisting of 22-37 detached single-family units and duplexes, ranging between 1-5 bedrooms. For the other property, she proposed building a 15-unit complex of detached 2-4 bedroom condos and duplexes, which would eventually be sold to low-income homeowners for $140,000 each. Funding for these projects would come from a variety of sources, including state and federal grants and loans.
The locations of the properties weren’t disclosed in open session. But Hall said she was looking for direction from the board on pursuing the two projects. If the projects move forward, more details would be discussed in the public portion of upcoming meetings.
Hall also floated the idea of changing the format of board meetings and of the information that commissioners receive in their meeting packets. She proposed cutting back on staff reports, presenting them quarterly instead of monthly. That way, more of the board’s meeting time would be freed to focus on strategic planning issues, she said.
Hall also suggested changing the way that meeting minutes are written up. Instead of including a detailed description of the board’s discussions, she said, the minutes could provide a summary of the discussion and a note about the outcome, if a vote is taken. Some commissioners expressed concerns about truncating the minutes dramatically. Board president Marta Manildi said the AAHC board would like a richer level of detail than what’s provided in Ann Arbor city council minutes, which she described as too terse.
During the time available for public commentary, two residents of Miller Manor – an AAHC apartment complex on Miller Avenue – raised concerns about security issues in the building. Manildi told them that their comments would be forwarded to a working group of staff that’s addressing security problems at all AAHC properties.