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Topic: What is Flint's housing future
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untanglingwebs
El Supremo

6 Predictions From Zillow For 2017

12/14/2016



With the year nearly at an end, Zillow.com has come with 6 predictions for the coming year.
Here are Zillow’s six predictions for 2017:

1. Cities will focus on denser development of smaller homes close to public transit and urban centers.

2. More millennials will become homeowners, driving up the homeownership rate. Millennials are also more racially diverse, so more homeowners will be people of color, reflecting the changing demographics of the United States.

3. Rental affordability will improve as incomes rise and growth in rents slows.

4. Buyers of new homes will have to spend more as builders cover the cost of rising construction wages, driven even higher in 2017 by continued labor shortages, which could be worsened by tougher immigration policies under President-elect Trump.

5. The percentage of people who drive to work will rise for the first time in a decade as homeowners move further into the suburbs seeking affordable housing — putting them further from adequate public transit options.

6. Home values will grow 3.6 percent in 2017, according to more than 100 economic and housing experts surveyed in the latest Zillow Home Price Expectations Survey. National home values have risen 4.8 percent so far in 2016.
- See more at: http://www.jordancapitalfinance.com/blog?s=search.yahoo.com#sthash.VS0I2DCs.dpuf
Post Mon Jan 02, 2017 9:25 am 
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untanglingwebs
El Supremo

Anyone who watches HGTV and similar shows realizes there are a number of communities that have few foreclosures and a definite shortage of available housing. They show home flippers making big profits from flips of the available housing stock.

Realtytrac is the entity that reports on a quarterly basis all things related to real estate, including bank owned (zombies) foreclosures, auctions, and REO's (real estate owned). On May 19, 2016 Realtytrac released a quarterly report on America's most vacant cities and for the second time, Flint, Michigan held the number 1 spot. The most troubling aspect of this report was that it showed 219% increase of the vacant bank owned homes from the previous quarter.

Flint captured the number 1 spot with 11,104 vacant properties, up from 9,800 in the February report and 7.2% of the available housing stock.


Last edited by untanglingwebs on Mon Jan 02, 2017 10:07 am; edited 1 time in total
Post Mon Jan 02, 2017 9:43 am 
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untanglingwebs
El Supremo

Clay, a 93.7Club.com radio reporter had an interesting spin on the report that he aired the day after the May report was released. Clay called the Flint city vacancies a" problem not being addressed" . Clay viewed the biggest factor in the vacancy rate was that "nobody's looking to move into Flint" and that is creating a housing supply greater than the demand. "Normally, a well kept house house will sell", said Clay, "even if the price has to drop significantly for that to happen",
Post Mon Jan 02, 2017 9:52 am 
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untanglingwebs
El Supremo

These Are The American Cities With The Most Abandoned Houses
The struggles in Flint, Michigan, go far beyond the water crisis.
02/13/2016 09:30 am ET


Kate Abbey-Lambertz National Reporter, The Huffington Post
Credit: Michael S. Williamson/The Washington Post via Getty Images
Abandoned apartment buildings and a vacant home are shown near Detroit’s downtown. The city has the highest rate of vacant residential properties in the country.

The public health crisis that has seized Flint is only the latest struggle for the Michigan city, where one in six houses is vacant after a long period of decline.

The Flint metro area had the highest rate of vacancy in February at 7.5 percent, according to a RealtyTrac report released Thursday that ranked metropolitan statistical areas with the most and least empty houses.

The real estate data company broke down the data by individual city for The Huffington Post, revealing a more extreme picture of abandonment: 9,800 homes are empty in Flint, 16.5 percent of all residential properties. At the city level, Detroit had the highest vacancy rate, with 53,000 empty houses, nearly one in five. Nationally, close to one of every 63 residential properties that RealtyTrac analyzed are vacant.

The company looked at data for about 85 million residential properties in large metropolitan areas and matched it to properties that mail carriers had flagged as vacant. They found that across the U.S., the vacancy rate is decreasing, which poses a challenge in cities where there’s a lot of housing demand.

Flint was one of a handful of places where there’s been little change since RealtyTrac last analyzed vacancy data in September, Vice President Daren Blomquist said in an email.

Most of the empty homes in Flint are “investment properties,” where owners live elsewhere and aim to rent them out. The ongoing water troubles has made it difficult, if not close to impossible, to sell a house.

The crisis began when the city switched up its water supply two years ago. A series of mistakes that have been called a failure of government at every level resulted in lead from pipes leaching into drinking water, elevated lead levels in children and allegations of numerous other health problems. “The water crisis did not cause the high vacancy rate in Flint, but it will certainly exacerbate it,” Blomquist said.

Most of the people who live in Flint are black and 40 percent are poor. Presidential candidates and scores of other critics have suggested that a similar disaster wouldn’t happen in a whiter and wealthier community, and residents have been outraged at how long it took for officials to acknowledge their concerns, which go back to 2014.

“There’s a philosophy of government that has been writing these places off — places like Flint get written off,” Rep. Dan Kildee (D-Mich.) previously told HuffPost. “And, to me, even though those people making those decisions might not see it this way, it’s hard for me to accept the fact that race is not the most significant factor.”

The “writing off” has been going on for decades, according to Danielle Lewinski, vice president and director of Michigan initiatives at the Center for Community Progress. The Flint-based nonprofit works to eliminate blight nationally.

It’s helped cause the city’s decline, Lewinski told HuffPost in an email:

Distressed cities like Flint struggle to generate enough revenue locally to reinvest back into critical infrastructure, such as water systems. Decades of disinvestment and job and population loss have led to a phenomenal erosion of the tax base, both in terms of the number of taxpayers and in terms of the value of the land. As a result, cities with high levels of abandonment, like Flint, are faced with the financial challenge of needing to maintain and reinvest in a scale of infrastructure that was once supported by a tax base more than twice its current size.

Flint, along with Detroit, an hour south and facing many of the same struggles, have been trying to tackle the vacant property problems — empty houses are easy targets for metal thieves and other criminal activity. Thousands of houses are left uninhabitable and can become dangerous neighborhood eyesores. Vacant homes tend to be concentrated in particular areas of cities, Blomquist said, magnifying problems.
RealtyTrac
Darker red areas on the map of Flint zip codes indicate a higher vacancy rate. Five zip codes in Flint have vacancy rates nearly twice the city’s average, all the way up to a 33 percent vacancy rate.

Both cities have received millions in federal funding to demolish structures that have become blighted beyond repair. Flint recently launched a new blight elimination strategy, which includes everything from demolition to working with community groups to make sure vacant lots get mowed.

Detroit has embarked on an ambitious demolition program that has faced controversy while razing 7,000 homes over two years.

Lewinski said she expects that ongoing health and safety issues for residents will increase the number of empty homes.

“These impacts have the potential to cripple the progress made by Flint stakeholders in recent years to stabilize neighborhoods and improve quality of life,” she said.
Here are the 10 cities with the highest rate of vacant homes, according to RealtyTrac’s analysis:
U.S. Cities With The Highest Rate Of Vacant Homes

Kate Abbey-Lambertz covers sustainable cities, housing and inequality. Tips? Feedback? Send an email or follow her on Twitter.
More: Flint Cities Sustainable Cities Abandoned Houses Cities With Most Abandoned Houses
Post Mon Jan 02, 2017 9:59 am 
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untanglingwebs
El Supremo

“There’s a philosophy of government that has been writing these places off — places like Flint get written off,” Rep. Dan Kildee (D-Mich.) previously told HuffPost. “And, to me, even though those people making those decisions might not see it this way, it’s hard for me to accept the fact that race is not the most significant factor.”

The “writing off” has been going on for decades, according to Danielle Lewinski, vice president and director of Michigan initiatives at the Center for Community Progress. The Flint-based nonprofit works to eliminate blight nationally.

It’s helped cause the city’s decline, Lewinski told HuffPost in an email:

Distressed cities like Flint struggle to generate enough revenue locally to reinvest back into critical infrastructure, such as water systems. Decades of disinvestment and job and population loss have led to a phenomenal erosion of the tax base, both in terms of the number of taxpayers and in terms of the value of the land. As a result, cities with high levels of abandonment, like Flint, are faced with the financial challenge of needing to maintain and reinvest in a scale of infrastructure that was once supported by a tax base more than twice its current size.
Post Mon Jan 02, 2017 10:09 am 
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untanglingwebs
El Supremo

The trend of building up Flint within a two mile radius of the heart of the city is continuing.

The Christian Science Monitor on February 11, 2016 (Olivia Lowenberg) wrote how the number of vacancies were rising in the area closest to Flint's Center City and stated 1 in 5 houses were vacant. They cited rentals as being down 23% (highest rate in the nation) as opposed to a national rate of 4.3%. he article noted how the downward housing spiral and increasing vacancy rates could influence homeowners unable sell their homes to just walk away.

A 2wallet Hub report placed Flint dead last for overall ranking of cities with healthy real estate markets. Flint is also one of the cities with the highes number of homes with a negative equity and the lowest medium home price appreciation. Flint was dead last when compared to other cities of it's size.
Post Mon Jan 02, 2017 10:27 am 
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untanglingwebs
El Supremo

CNN
you can buy a home in flint for $14,000


by Kathryn Vasel @KathrynVasel March 4, 2016: 5:43 PM ET
Months later, Flint residents still have tainted water
The hits keep coming for Flint's housing market.

The Michigan city that sits roughly 60 miles north of Detroit is currently under a state of emergency after it was discovered that residents were exposed to unsafe levels of lead from the city's water system.

And the fallout is starting to hurt its already-bruised real estate market.
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HOME AFFORDABILITY BY HOME AFFORDABILITY BY

The 2008 housing crash that sent the nation's economy into a tailspin hit Flint particularly hard.

"They lost about 75% of real estate [value] in the city of Flint," said Rob Moen, an associate broker at Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices. "Homes today are selling for maybe 50% of what they were selling for in 2005."

Flint hasn't experienced a price rebound like other markets have in the past few years, and many residents remain underwater.

"Anyone that bought their home in the early 2000s in Flint with a mortgage is still upside down on their house and they aren't able to move because they can't sell it," said Moen.

Related: How to help with the Flint water crisis
flint housing 1

In the past couple of years, Flint's housing market was just starting to get back on its feet, but the water crisis has been a "momentum killer," said Chris Theodoroff, a real estate agent and president of the East Central Association of Realtors.

The median home price in Flint is $14,000, according to the ECAR.

And it's clear that the water problems have become a concern since well water is now on many buyers' wish lists, Moen said. "All of a sudden, we started getting people asking for houses with well water, they didn't want city water."

Real estate agent Jonathan Schlinker said Fannie Mae recently rejected an all-cash offer from his client on a foreclosure the agency owned because of the water crisis.

(Fannie Mae has temporarily taken homes it owns in Flint off the market to conduct water tests.)

"My buyer is aware of the water issue, and is still willing to purchase with cash," said Schlinker. "Now it's sitting there empty and can't be sold at all."

Theodoroff recently had a buyer walk away after making an offer, citing the water crisis, though he suspects the real culprit was the amount of renovation needed.
flint housing 2

Another problem is that many lenders now require tests that prove a property's water is safe before issuing a loan.

But sales in Flint haven't stopped completely. In the first two months of this year, 116 homes were sold in the city. The cheapest sold at $1, while the most expensive came in at $249,000.

Moen listed a home this week for $12,500 and has already received two all-cash offers above the asking price.

The offers came from a single mom with kids and a city employee looking for a shorter commute.

And while Moen said the home's water tested fine, the owner told him she wasn't using it and that it gave her rashes.

"She has about 40 cases of water stacked up."

Related: Flint crisis creating bull market for water stocks

Buyers in Flint right now tend to be young couples, investors and renters looking to take advantage of depressed prices and low interest rates.

Rent in the city for a single-family home is about $400-$500 a month, according to local real estate agent Bonnie Kehoe.

"It's a good time to buy," she said. "You can buy a house and the payment is less than if you were to rent a house."

But renters are also more likely to leave the city since they aren't tied to mortgage.

Flint has the highest vacancy rate in the country, with 1 in 14 homes vacant. The problem is even worse in some areas in the city's center where 1 in 5 homes sit empty.

But despite the high number of vacant properties, the supply of homes on the market is still very limited.

"There are a lot of abandoned homes," said Kehoe. "They haven't been taken care and no one is ever going to buy them."
Post Mon Jan 02, 2017 10:50 am 
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untanglingwebs
El Supremo

Housing market in Flint shows signs of comeback
Jacob Carah, The Detroit News 9:01 a.m. EDT August 2, 2016

Flint — While organizing his clothes, books and blankets, 24-year-old Josh McIntosh looked up to take stock in his recently acquired 1928 English Tudor on the city’s west side.

“I know things take time, and it’s not going to happen overnight, but if you see the homes around here, you meet the people ... Flint is a good investment for me, and a place I see coming back,” the first-time homeowner said.

The Flushing native and senior studying business at the University of Michigan-Flint is part of a youth movement among home buyers who haven’t given up on living here — a silver lining within the city’s lead contamination crisis.

“I know the water crisis is bad and there are other things that have needed to be fixed,” said McIntosh, who plans to renovate and eventually rent out the 1,532-square-foot house on Woodcroft “with a lot of potential” that he bought for $42,500.

In fact, there are 24.3 percent fewer homes for sale than a year ago when residents were complaining about the quality of their water, but not yet told by government officials it contained high levels of lead, according to Multiple Listing Services and Realtor Association data.

And the number of homes sold in June is up 11.1 percent from last year. The second quarter also shows an 8.3 percent jump over first quarter sales, according to the market data.

“This can be a promising sign we’re climbing out of a very stiff housing recession,” said local real estate agent Chris Theodoroff, who has 37 years of experience in the market.

The latest figures also suggest home prices in Flint are on the incline by 16 percent compared with last June.

There is disagreement among landlords, real estate agents and brokers on the current housing trends and not everyone believes the city’s water crisis has been so influential.

“I think people underestimated how tough this town is and folks’ willingness to stay,” said John “Biff” Snyder, a real estate broker on the city’s west side.

“People were saying the bottom was going to fall out on this thing and the effects would be catastrophic. What we ended up seeing is that really there was no significant change from prior years.”

Millennials, such as McIntosh, appear eager to enter the market as families look to hand over the keys.

“Families with kids are trying to get out, but it also seems like the millennials are coming back because you’ve got plenty of affordable housing and a renovated downtown,” Snyder said.

“Young professionals — no different than Midtown Detroit — they’re looking at coming in because it’s affordable and it’s close to the downtown. They don’t want the big spaces, they want to have the college atmosphere, whereas you have families who are still afraid of the water; they want out.”

Many brokers and landlords across the city still say Flint’s real estate market is “rough.”

Broker and landlord Mike Neurohr doesn’t share the optimism for a complete turnaround. His doubts are from too many long-term issues still plaguing the city and “a lot of it is over the last five years,” he said.

“The schools, the crime, the continued loss of jobs within the city, the new inspection process they’ve implemented in bringing these houses to a certain level, so renters and other folks leaving,” he said. “So as an investor, you can’t recoup your return.”

From Neurohr’s perspective, “the renters don’t stay long because they’ve been paying the highest costs in the nation for water, then you find out the water’s bad, so the ones that can move out go to Burton, Grand Blanc or Davison outside the city limits.”

According to city assessor Bill Fowler, the projected overall valuation of real estate in the city for 2016 is up 4.4 percent over 2015.

But Fowler said that projection of overall market value is based on residential properties that sold during the period of Oct. 1, 2013, to Sept. 30, 2015, which is the day before Snyder said he learned of Flint’s lead crisis, prompting the state government to sound alarms.

The assessment division will continue to monitor the market and its next assessments will cover Oct. 1, 2014, through Sept. 30, 2016, much of which covers Flint’s water crisis.

With a small surge of sales in the month of April and gaining property values, Flint’s situation leaves real estate agents such as Henry Tannenbaum cautiously optimistic.

A broker at TDM Realtors, Tannenbaum said now that the water crisis “is waning on the minds of those outside the city, you have people taking another look at Flint.”

“We’ve had migration, but the migration has been the middle class for the most part, slowly moving out,” he said. “The main reason is that the value of their homes in Flint doesn’t afford them a decent down payment for a house in the suburbs.”

Genesee County is a “very reasonable place to live,” added Tannenbaum. The cost to buy a three-bedroom ranch in the county ranges from $100,000 to $120,000. Homeowners in the city get on average a sale of $10,000 to $14,000.

“You have to remember Flint had already taken two or three big hits before the water crisis,” he said. “We had the highest water cost in the country, where it cost us more to have water here than in the desert of Arizona.”

The rental market in the city has “mostly followed suit,” said Terry Hanson. “I’m in the trenches every day, hearing from tenants why they want to get out.”

Mimicking a similar outlook for tenants, Hanson, vice president and executive officer of the Genesee Landlords Association, said renters have been leaving the city for many of the same reasons as homeowners.

Hanson said the water crisis did have an impact combined with crime and struggling schools: “People just end up deciding they want to go someplace else, the water was just a final stroke in some cases.”

But others, such as McIntosh, remain committed to Flint’s comeback.

“I looked at a couple of different houses, but I believe this will be a growing area over time,” he said. “I saw the price and just absolutely loved it, looked around the area and met the neighbors, and everyone has been really great so far.”

Jacob Carah is a freelance reporter for The Detroit News.
Post Mon Jan 02, 2017 10:58 am 
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untanglingwebs
El Supremo

Flipping can be risky. However, for the young without children the opportunity to buy a home cheap and add a whole home water filter, the deal can be a bargain. Many parents are still suspicious of the Flint schools despite the emergence from a deficit recently announced.

I know from watching some home improvements tackled by various non-profits, that many homes have been so sorely neglected that rehabilitation is costly and sometimes a disaster. I remember when Dan Kildee ran the Land bank, one of his interns wrote an excellent piece on rehabilitation in which he cited the cheap construction of homes built for factory workers were a poor candidate for deconstruction versus demolition.

There were projects that increased dramatically in cost as foundations collapsed and other problem surfaced on the homes around Smith Village.
Post Mon Jan 02, 2017 11:11 am 
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untanglingwebs
El Supremo

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One third of children in Silicon Valley are homeless while tech profits soar
Sarah K. Burris

28 Dec 2016 at 08:20 ET


The cost of living in northern California is so high that children headed to school the next day must spend their nights struggling to find a place to sleep. That’s because one-third of Silicon Valley’s schoolchildren are homeless.

Nationally, children are often homeless because they run away from violence in their home or they’ve aged out of the foster-care system. In Silicon Valley’s case, the problem is the cost of living, The Guardian reports. A full 1,147 children are defined as homeless. Many of them end up mostly sharing homes with friends or family members because their parents can’t afford housing. Others live in RVs and shelters.
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The most recent national data, from 2013 outlines a record level of homelessness for 2.5 million children, while another 15 million children live in poverty, according to the National Center for Children in Poverty and the American Institute of Research. That’s more than 1 in 5 children in the United States who go to bed hungry, don’t have clean clothes for school or struggle to find a place to sleep — despite record levels stock market.

In August, a housing official penned a scathing resignation letter because her family’s income wasn’t high enough to live in the very city she represents.

“After many years of trying to make it work in Palo Alto, my husband and I cannot see a way to stay in Palo Alto and raise a family here,” wrote Kate Vershov Downing.
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East Palo Alto was once the epicenter for African-American and Latino communities in the area. Yet, as the tech bubble grew so employee salaries and with it the housing costs.

“Now you have Caucasians moving back into the community, you have Facebookers and Googlers and Yahooers,” Pastor Paul Bains, a local leader, told The Guardian. “That’s what’s driven the cost back up. Before, houses were rarely over $500,000. And now, can you find one under $750,000? You probably could, but it’s a rare find.”

Rent prices aren’t any better for those that can’t afford to own a home. The average one-bedroom apartment in East Palo Alto rents for more than $2,200 each month. There’s no way to afford it if a person makes $15 an hour. Add childcare at $11 an hour and it’s impossible.

The Guardian tells the story of the Chavez family — displaced after their father was injured and prevented him from working. They now live in a $1,000 RV. The main part has two beds, the refrigerator is broken so they can’t store any fresh food and windows are sealed with tape. They shower at the YMCA and use the toilet as little as possible to save space.
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Some families told The Guardian that they wanted to move to cheaper real estate markets like California’s Central Valley but there are no jobs there. Even the principal of one East Palo Alto school is a 47-year-old woman who was forced to live in a home with three other educators because her income isn’t high enough to afford an apartment of her own much less a house.

“I was done with roommates in college,” she said. “Not once did I even think I would live with others unless it was a significant other.”

For those that can’t even afford an RV or a portion of an apartment, there’s what the New York Times called “Hotel 22.” It’s a bus line that runs 24 hours a day 7 days a week between San Jose and Palo Alto. Those who don’t have a place to sleep at night will pay the fare to ride the bus so they can get 90 minutes of sleep before they’re forced to get off and get back on again.

Walmart parking lots are filled with people living in cars or RVs. Makeshift shantytowns have been set up with tents and tarps among the 75 wooded acres off Interstate 101 in San Jose. It’s the largest homeless encampment in the area, AlterNet reports. In 2013, the area dropped to freezing temperatures overnight and five people didn’t make it, freezing to death on the streets of San Jose. This exists while tech companies are scoring millions in profits and venture capitalists are doling out cash to new start-ups.

The Guardian reports that Facebook has announced it is committing $18.5 million to create affordable housing in the area. Their CEO and his wife have funded programs in the area that help increase literacy and leadership training for those trying to get higher paying jobs.

You can watch a video below of the “Hotel 22” bus line:
Post Tue Jan 03, 2017 5:23 pm 
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untanglingwebs
El Supremo

Everyone was shocked when 6 year old Kayla Rolland was murdered in a classroom of Buell Elementary by a 6 year old boy, Dedric Owens.

A second shock was that his mother, Tamarla Owens, couldn't care for her children because she had to be bused to a Detroit area mall to work her two part-time jobs. I remember Sam Riddle discussing how the State has a series of transportation routes to transport mostly low income and underemployed workers to areas that needed workers. Riddle called it the modern day "slave ships".

The state and other GOP leaders are expanding this "ride to work" programs. The areas needing workers are too expensive for the workers to live there and most lack transportation. So these workers must get up early for a bus trip that sometimes takes 2 hours to work.
Post Wed Jan 04, 2017 11:44 am 
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untanglingwebs
El Supremo

The most recent bus to work program is Livingston County. The county lacks housing for workers in their growing manufacturing industry. So far they have between 170 to 300 workers that travel daily for jobs that pay between $10 to $13 an hour according to a recent Journal story.

The pay is not enough to build the "safety net" the GOP keeps touting.
Post Wed Jan 04, 2017 11:51 am 
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untanglingwebs
El Supremo

The argument of building Smith Village among blighted structures is the same issue the Detroit News explored in a front page story on April 26, 2016. New Housing amid blight gets mixed response by Christine Ferretti describes part of the dilemma many communities trying to rebuild are facing-what is the appropriate role between demolition for blight and new housing options.

Ferretti described the area of Detroit near a closed Kettering High School as a "study in juxtaposition". Like Smith Village, the newly constructed "lease to own" Maxwell Place low income housing development is close to burnt out, and abandoned homes. In Smith Village some of these properties actually lie within the parameters that define the area. However North of Smith Village are some areas that have had extensive demolition.
Post Wed Jan 18, 2017 8:56 am 
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untanglingwebs
El Supremo

New Detroit housing amid blight gets mixed response
Christine Ferretti , The Detroit News Published 12:00 a.m. ET April 26, 2016 | Updated 11:37 a.m. ET April 26, 2016
East-Side-01Buy Photo
(Photo: Todd McInturf / The Detroit News)
Detroit — Charles Wheeler’s neighborhood near the shuttered Kettering High School is a study in juxtaposition.

The 64-year-old Detroiter lives in a tidy, newer single-family, lease-purchase home with an inviting front porch, part of a 30-unit low-income housing development known as Maxwell Place that launched in 2007.

Just down the street, however, are burned-out, decayed homes and vacant lots that represent some of the worst blight on the east side.

The new construction near Interstate 94 and Van Dyke remains vibrant and mainly occupied, which has pleased Wheeler.

“I used to ride past here when they were building all of these,” said Wheeler, who moved into the rental about three years ago. “It’s quiet over here. It’s been good.”

Graphic
But whether the area has stabilized as a result of the new construction is still up for debate among neighbors and city officials. Detroit housing officials say they are rethinking whether it’s wise to build clusters of new homes in neighborhoods still pockmarked by decay and empty swaths of land.

Stephanie Phillips, a lifelong resident on nearby Seminole, said she’s puzzled by the Maxwell Place development, arguing efforts in her neighborhood should be directed instead toward downed trees, scrappers, squatters and blighted homes in need of demolition.

“When I saw the new houses I thought, ‘good, they are going to tear down some old ones.’ But, no,” said Phillips, 33, motioning to several abandoned houses and piles of dumped garbage next to a couple of newer rentals. “It’s ‘OK, let’s throw a few here and throw a few there.’ ”

The scattered-site affordable single-family housing model became popular in Detroit about 15 years ago as developers and community groups sought to stabilize city neighborhoods on the decline.

The low-income housing developments, funded with a mix of federal funds, state tax credits, private contributions and other sources, have taken shape in communities throughout Detroit and likely made sense to developers at the time.

But in the wake of the foreclosure crisis, officials say that housing model doesn’t necessarily fit the dramatically changed landscape of some city neighborhoods today. Infill housing isn’t the fastest or most cost-effective approach to stabilizing neighborhoods in comparison to home rehabilitation projects, city officials say.

Arthur Jemison, director of the city’s Housing and Revitalization Department, said the city is focusing now on other ways to strengthen Detroit neighborhoods — specifically by trying to preserve existing homes that are worth saving, and connecting them to walkable retail corridors.

Those corridors include Livernois and McNichols and the historic Jefferson-Chalmers district. Attention is also being directed toward reviving neighborhood retailers and other businesses on major arteries such as Grand River, Gratiot, Vernor, Jefferson and Warren.

“People everywhere are choosing walkable commercial districts to live around,” Jemison said. “We had them once, and we can have them again. It’s just got to be a focused effort.”

Last fall, officials introduced a map of the 10 priority areas for multifamily housing where the city hopes to focus development. They plan to update it annually.

The plan is geared toward transforming neighborhoods, preserving historic structures in areas such as Russell Woods and northeast Detroit’s Conant Gardens, and providing permanent supportive housing for the homeless.

The city last fall announced a $28 million project to convert the former Strathmore Hotel in Midtown into 129 apartments and 2,000 square feet of ground-floor commercial space. A portion of the units will be offered at affordable housing rates, the rest will rent at higher market rates.

Separately, a $70 million development in the city’s Brush Park neighborhood is expected to create nearly 400 new residential units and restore four historic mansions.

Affordable housing

Tim Thorland, executive director of Southwest Housing Solutions, a group that plans, develops and manages affordable housing and commercial property in southwest Detroit, said affordable housing projects like the scattered site developments have been popular in Detroit over the past 20 years as a way to jump-start occupancy and density in the neighborhoods. But the anticipated momentum around that didn’t always pan out, he said.

Thorland added there are “plenty of units around town that are functioning well, but the preponderance of units are not.”

“Whether it was multifamily or single-family, there was nothing nefarious about it,” he said. “It was that there really wasn’t any overall strategy for affordable housing development placement.”

Southwest has about 100 of the single-family, scattered site units in its affordable housing portfolio. They have been among the highest performing, he added.

“They’re good, and we’d do more of them,” he said of the units. “There’s just a subset of them that are a real problem.”

The Maxwell project — generally bounded by Interstate 94, Gratiot, Maxwell and East Grand — was funded in part through the state’s low-income housing tax credit program. The project developers say it’s fared well, with only one unit currently vacant.

The project went in to meet the “significant need for high-quality affordable housing,” said Ken Outcalt, executive vice president of NRP Group LLC, the firm that served as a co-developer and general contractor for Maxwell Place.


In northwest Detroit’s Brightmoor, a nonprofit has headed a similar housing project that’s since run into trouble when funding dried up.

Brightmoor Neighborhood Development began phasing infill housing into the neighborhood in 1999, with hopes of continued new home construction on vacant land, said John O’Brien, the group’s executive director.

The 350 units — 50 built annually over six years — are spread throughout the four-square-mile community. All have tenants and remain in good shape, despite the blighted condition of much of the neighborhood, he said.

Unfortunately, the recession hampered plans, funding dried up and they weren’t able to continue. The nonprofit owns the property and employs a management firm to handle the rentals. The project is funded with tax credits, an investment by the city and the help of several banks.

“It’s a really difficult time in Detroit with all of the vacancies and all of the land that is sitting vacant without a real clear sense of how to productively use that land,” O’Brien said.

The Brightmoor project met its goal of adding the new homes and changing the neighborhood, Jemison said.

“But the problem is the rest of the neighborhood changed so much that it wasn’t able to stabilize it,” he added.

Other developments

Meanwhile, near Seven Mile and Woodward, a $20 million project added 72 units of single-family housing and duplexes, a community art and farm house, and jump started a revival for the neighborhood, co-developer Cynthia Solaka said.

The two-phase Penrose Village development was aimed at bringing new opportunities to the diminishing housing stock in the area near the old state fairgrounds.

Solaka said she and her partners put the first 36 units in service by December 2006. The second round was completed in the fall of 2013, and interest in the units has been high, she said.

“Our plans are on hold for this point in time for that neighborhood,” she said. “There’s a tremendous need. We think it’s a good project.”

The group had hoped to add a third phase about a year ago, but failed to get a letter of support from the city for an application for tax credit funding from the state.

Jemison said the area encompassing the Penrose project is one of the city’s target areas for housing. The city, he said, is in talks with groups in the area over an alternative housing plan.

Erica Carter’s family of six moved into one of the newer, four-bedroom rentals on Lantz last March.

The 21-year-old dental assistant said it’s been peaceful and that the row of houses on her block haven’t been a target for crime.

“There’s not a lot of screaming. There’s not a lot of sirens. There’s not a lot of anything, actually,” said Carter, adding they recently renewed the lease. “They should knock out all these abandoned houses and just keep doing it.”

cferretti@detroitnews.com
Post Wed Jan 18, 2017 9:15 am 
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untanglingwebs
El Supremo

Many of the same arguments in the Detroit News story echo problems in Flint. However, in Smith Village there was vandalism and theft in several homes while under construction. Also there was at least two murders on Mary Street, the northern border of Smith Village.

With federal money drying up and the latest story of Habitat for Humanity shutting down some stores and building operations, what is the future for Flint? The population loss in Flint for multiple reasons means less federal money and less state revenue sharing.

Rentals seem to be the wave of the future. But with relatively few options for home ownership for those on the lower end of the economic scale usually can only buy on a land contract. There has to be caution in rehabbing some of these homes as many have been neglected for a long period of time.
Post Wed Jan 18, 2017 9:35 am 
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