SOS Community Services of Ypsilanti is partnering with the Ann Arbor Housing Commission (AAHC) to add a staff person who will provide supportive services for low income residents who are receiving a voucher subsidy from AAHC.
The AAHC, which administers 1,400 Section 8 vouchers, is concerned about the high number of tenants who lose subsidized housing every year. In most cases, the AAHC believes the loss of these subsidies can be prevented with early intervention. The loss of a housing subsidy is a serious event for a family. Once a voucher is lost for ANY reason, a family will NEVER be eligible for Section 8 housing again. For families who escape homelessness and find permanent housing through a Section 8 voucher, the loss of that voucher may lead back to homelessness. (The vouchers allow families to obtain housing while paying no more than 1/3 of their income for rent. The Federal Government, thorough local agencies, subsidizes the remainder.)
Annually, the AAHC reports that about 120, or roughly 7%, of Section 8 vouchers turn over. Last year, 20 of these were given up because the residents were able to support themselves without that aid. The other 100 vouchers were lost due to adverse actions, mostly minor violations. Between 8 and 12 families each month lose their Section 8 vouchers in Ann Arbor. The Housing Commission would like to bring this number down.
Sometimes a family will lose a voucher because they are unable to pay a utility bill one month. A family might lose a voucher because they did not fill out their renewal paperwork properly or on time. According to the AAHC, about 80 grievance procedures occur annually, during which landlords and tenants attempt to resolve disagreements. About half of those grievance procedures result in evictions. Typically, landlords arrive at the meetings with a lawyer to represent their interests. Tenants normally do not have an advocate to represent their position or help them negotiate a compromise to avoid eviction. The AAHC is usually unaware of problems with paperwork, utilities, or grievances until it is too late to avoid eviction.
A new coordinator is preventing evictions by assisting residents with paperwork, utility resources, and grievance procedures. A hotline has been established through which landlords or tenants can contact the coordinator to report a problem early and begin working on a solution.
PLATT ROAD PROJECT UPDATE
The 13.59 acre site at 2270 Platt Road used to contain the County Juvenile Detention Center, which has been demolished. In June of 2014, the County formed a Platt Road Community Advisory Committee (CAC) to make recommendations to the County Board about the use of the property, including a process of collecting the concerns of the larger community.
In August of that year, there was a 3-day planning meeting which resulted in some possible plans and 14 guiding principles. These principles included mixed use and mixed income, including affordable and moderately priced housing. A number of RAAH Board members attended the planning meeting and went to (and spoke at) additional meetings and hearings over the next two years.
In August of 2016, a Request for Proposals was issued to solicit offers to realize affordable housing units on the property. The proposals can be seen on the County web site or by using this link: http://www.plattroad.org/platt-road-proposals. We will continue to be involved as the process continues.
It is significant that the land is part of the site of the Washtenaw County Poor Farm and later the County Hospital. From 1830 until the 1970’s it was part of the county’s mandate from the state to provide for the needy.
Board members will be happy to meet with a committee or an adult education group to talk about the continuum of affordable housing and answer questions.
RAAH members have recently publicly advocated for sensible regulation of Accessory Dwelling Units (ADU's) and for inclusion of affordable housing in the development of Washtenaw County’s Platt Road property.
Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs) are second, smaller dwelling units either developed within an existing single family house (such as a basement, attic, or addition) or as part of an accessory structure (such as a converted garage).
ADUs can provide a new housing prototype that could impact affordability in two ways: 1 - For a potential renter, the small unit size usually results in lower rents;
2 - For the owner, affordability can be achieved through the provision of rental income, in particular for those on fixed incomes. (MORE)
POINT IN TIME Count (PIT)
On January 31 Washtenaw county conducted its annual survey of homeless sheltered and unsheltered persons. Recently county officials shared their findings in a fascinating set of slides. Some of the facts the count reveals may surprise you. Link here for a view of the data.