Ann Arbor launches affordable housing waitlist website

Friday, July 24, 2020 - 4:39pm

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Dominick Sokotoff/Daily

In an effort to provide affordable housing options for Ann Arbor residents, the Washtenaw County Office of Community and Economic Development –– in partnership with the city of Ann Arbor –– launched a new affordable housing waitlist website Friday afternoon.

The website will feature properties with varying unit sizes and different requirements for income and rent restrictions. Currently, the website offers only one available property for this summer, but more properties are expected to be added each year. 

Applicants will be able to complete a form asking for basic background information about their household to determine income eligibility. The waitlist is expected to open on July 27 at 1 p.m. and will operate on a first come, first serve basis, according to a press release.

Not all applicants approved for the waitlist will be guaranteed a unit, however. Once selected and qualified, applicants must also complete the properties application.

Teresa Gillotti, interim director of the OCED for Washtenaw County, said the city of Ann Arbor has put in place policies through their zoning ordinance and Brownfield Redevelopment Policy that provide incentives for affordable development. This website, Gillotti further explained, will provide a venue for the city to market these affordable housing options to local residents. 

“We took the opportunity to rethink how we're basically marketing any of these units that come online through these tools like the incentives or the zoning,” Gillotti said. “What we want to do is do a website and an online waitlist so that we can push it out as broadly as we can and make sure that a lot of people were aware of it, had the opportunity to apply for those units and have a chance to live in an affordable unit in downtown Ann Arbor.”

Brownfields are previously developed locations that experience difficulties in redevelopment due to the presence of contamination. The Brownfield Redevelopment Policy, which was passed in 2019, requires projects to make 15 percent of their units affordable to those making 60 percent or less of the area median income, among other requirements, in order to receive tax incentives. 

“The city gave an incentive to this developer for the property and to do these affordable units, and so (this) one place allows us to make sure that they're renting to people that meet the right incomes, (and) also allows us to market it more broadly,” Gillotti said. “So I think it's a combination of maybe matchmaking — to make sure that people who are income qualified then get matched with the available units — and make sure that the property managers and the owners are meeting the requirements that were set out in the agreements between the city and the developer.”

Summer News Editor Kristina Zheng can be reached at krizheng@umich.edu