Stories indexed with the term ‘Section 8’

Ann Arbor Housing Commission to Expand?

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.

Jennifer L. Hall, Andy LaBarre

Jennifer L. Hall, the new Ann Arbor housing commission executive director, talks with commission board member Andy LaBarre before the board's Dec. 21, 2011 meeting. (Photos by the writer.)

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. [Full Story]

Zingerman’s Deli Expansion Moves Ahead

Ann Arbor Planning Commission meeting (May 18, 2010): Two items with ties to Zingerman’s received approval from planning commissioners at their most recent meeting: The site plan for expansion of Zingerman’s Deli, and a special exemption use for the Westside Farmers Market, located next to Zingerman’s Roadhouse.

Grace Singleton, Paul Saginaw

Grace Singleton, a managing partner of Zingerman's Deli, sits next to Zingerman's co-founder Paul Saginaw as the planning commission deliberates on a proposed expansion of the deli, which was ultimately approved. Behind Saginaw is Michael Quinn of Quinn Evans Architects, who is working on the project. (Photos by the writer.)

The farmers market has no further steps to take – it opens on June 3, from 3-7 p.m. But the approval process for the deli expansion is far from over. After seeking approval from city council for its plans, deli partners will need to circle back to the city’s historic district commission – the site is located in the Old Fourth Ward historic district. The Chronicle has previously reported on their earlier efforts down this path: “Zingerman’s: Making It Right for the HDC.”

Pending approvals, Zingerman’s hopes to break ground on the project early next year.

Also at last week’s meeting, commissioners reviewed the site plan for the Windsong affordable housing project off of Stone School Road, north of Ellsworth. They ultimately approved plans for building 32 townhomes financed in part by the Michigan State Housing Development Authority. But concerns were raised over problems that some residents in the site’s existing 12 townhomes are causing for their neighbors. Three of those neighbors spoke at a public hearing, saying they’d like a higher fence around the property, at the least, to deal better with harassment, fighting, graffiti and other issues. [Full Story]

Housing Commission Reorganizes

Ann Arbor City Council work session (Jan. 11, 2010): Ann Arbor city councilmembers were presented on Monday evening with an outline for the reorganization of the city’s housing commission, a plan that has in large part already been adopted by the commission and needs no further city council approval.

The housing commission is responsible for 355 public housing units spread over 18 sites – or around 50% of the affordable housing stock in the city – plus 1,300 Section 8 vouchers for a three-county area.

computer screen with housing commission slide show

Kerry Laycock, the consultant who gave the city council a presentation on the reorganization of the housing commission, gave a slide presentation from the podium using this laptop computer. (Photos by the writer.)

Keys to the reorganization are beefing up the Section 8 program with a dedicated financial analyst and a program manager, and redefining roles of the executive director and deputy director, as well as outsourcing maintenance of the housing units.

Outsourcing maintenance will reduce the housing commission staff by six people – two temporary employees plus four union workers.

Alan Levy, who chairs the housing commission board, told councilmembers that the reorganization had already been approved by a 3-2 vote of the housing commission’s board at a special meeting held on Jan. 6, 2010. [Full Story]