The recent closure of the affordable housing units in the old YMCA on East Williams Street forced many low-income Ann Arbor residents to abandon their apartments for Ann Arbor motel rooms. Now, the city will move the evicted residents to an apartment complex in Ypsilanti. While the city will save money through this move, its inability to find replacement housing for displaced YMCA residents in Ann Arbor highlights the unacceptable lack of affordable housing in the city.
Over the years, increases in property values and the cost of living in Ann Arbor have priced low-income individuals out of the local housing market. In addition to forcing the city’s low-wage workers to live far from their jobs, this trend exacerbates income stratification in the city. The city has attempted to address the lack of affordable housing by requiring builders to either include lower-priced units in new developments or to contribute to an affordable housing fund. Although the fund has grown, the city’s supply of affordable housing has not – as the plight of former YMCA residents shows all too well.
The plan is for the evicted residents to be moved to Tuscan Creek Apartment in Ypsilanti, where private bathrooms will not make up for the more than seven-mile journey back to Ann Arbor. Without ready access to the city, residents could be cut off from their community and possibly their jobs. The city has tried hard to find housing for the former YMCA residents, but when the nearest available long-term affordable housing is in Ypsilanti, something is clearly wrong.
City Council member Margie Teall (D