City Council discusses plans for affordable housing in Ann Arbor

Monday, January 13, 2020 - 10:29pm

Jennifer Hall, executive director of the Housing Commission and the Ann Arbor City Council discuss affordable housing in Ann Arbor at City Hall Monday evening.

Jennifer Hall, executive director of the Housing Commission and the Ann Arbor City Council discuss affordable housing in Ann Arbor at City Hall Monday evening. Buy this photo
Natalie Stephens

Ann Arbor City Council met Monday night for a work session in conjunction with Jennifer Hall, executive director of the Housing Commission. The discussion surrounded the creation of more affordable housing in Ann Arbor. Approximately 60 Ann Arbor residents attended the meeting. 

Hall said those with an annual income ranging between $20,000-60,000, around 60 percent of Ann Arbor’s population, would be eligible for these housing units.

Residents had concerns about these units,  ranging from preserving historical chimneys to ensuring old trees remain in original locations. Positive features of the housing plan would be its walkability score, Low Income Housing Tax Credits and the possibility for the creation of mixed-use buildings. 

Hall said the building plan notes properties owned by the city that are not being used to their full extent, making them good candidates for a remodel. 

Hall, along with her colleagues, said the plan would require an experienced private developer, but the Housing Commission would still have autonomy over the plans.  

“We would need to have expertise from a private developer, but we’d like to have some certainty going into that process, in advance, where we would pre-entitle the basic footprint of what the site would look like,” Hall said.  

The council discussed a variety of topics, ranging from the process of building new properties to parking difficulties in Ann Arbor. The two are closely related, as many of the sites that may be developed are parking lots. 

Community member Stephen Ranzini, president and CEO of University Bank, attended the event and spoke with The Daily about the future and new technologies. 

He said he thinks that despite the struggles with parking, in the future these struggles will become obsolete as self-driving cars and ridesharing becomes more affordable than personal cars. 

“Every futurist I’ve talked to is telling me that self-driving electric cars will be a reality in 10 years ... you know, that sounds ambitious right now because there's still a lot of problems to solve,” Ranzini said. “But then again, 10 years ago, who was carrying a cell phone that had an awesome camera? Technology moves first slowly and then very rapidly.” 

Andy Tucker, Ann Arbor high schooler, discussed how the conversation on parking affected him personally. 

“The community cares a lot about parking,” Tucker said. “It’s been brought up in a lot of the discussions that they’ve had. I know that housing is really expensive and most can't afford it. The discussion helped me because now I know more about it.”