City of Detroit teams up with 6 partners to help preserve affordable housing and improve housing quality for residents

  • Preservation Partnership to identify affordable housing across Detroit that is at risk of going market rate and working to keep it affordable.

  • Effort also will help owners of properties to refinance and rehab their buildings so that they’ll remain affordable housing.

DETROIT (March 9, 2020) – The City of Detroit’s Housing & Revitalization Department (HRD) announced today the formation of the Preservation Partnership, a major step in its commitment to preserve affordable housing in the city while also improving its quality and preventing displacement. 

As part of its Multifamily Affordable Housing Strategy, HRD has established a goal of preserving 10,000 existing affordable housing units in the city by 2023. This is in addition to the creation of new affordable housing. This commitment comes at a time when a number of units are at risk of falling out of reach for many Detroiters because agreements to keep them affordable are expiring and rising demand and property values are leading more landlords to convert their properties into market-rate units.

HRD formed the Preservation Partnership team to lead a multi-year initiative to maintain affordable housing, either through the renewal of expiring affordability commitments or the coordination of new or restructured financing. For many of these units, this will also involve significant renovations to improve the quality of that affordable housing. 

 “The preservation of affordable housing is a critical piece of our overall vision of inclusive growth, ensuring that all Detroiters have a place amid our city’s renaissance, no matter how much money they make,” Mayor Mike Duggan said. “I’m proud of the team that our Housing & Revitalization Department has put together, bringing in experts to work on one of the most important issues facing our city today.” 

Today’s announcement was made at Conner Creek Senior Apartments, run by American Community Developers, one of the largest providers of affordable housing in the city. ACD took over the property in 2019 and immediately extended its affordability commitment through 2045, setting an example that the partnership hopes to replicate again and again.

The Preservation Partnership brings together organizations with a diverse range of expertise and experience to accomplish the team’s wide-ranging goals:

  • Enterprise Community Partners, which will lead the team and create and implement action plans for the preservation of affordable housing in the city.
  • United Community Housing Coalition, a Detroit-based nonprofit that will engage residents and provide key local knowledge and guidance on tenant-retention strategies.
  • The partnership between Cinnaire and CHN Housing Partners, which will develop a lease-purchase program and will provide a free technical assistance program for developers to enhance their capacity for preservation of projects within their portfolios.
  • Data Driven Detroit will build and manage a database of affordable housing, which will also track when tax credits and agreements are expiring, in order to help proactively preserve units as affordable.
  • Elevate Energy will perform energy assessments and recommend energy-efficiency improvements that will improve a building’s financial sustainability. Cheaper utilities and operation costs will benefit both property owners and residents.
  • Community Investment Corp, a national leader on naturally occurring affordable housing (NOAH) preservation strategies.

Enterprise Community Partners will lead the team, leveraging more than 35 years of national expertise in affordable housing creation, preservation and finance, to prioritize preservation projects and develop property-level action plans.

“Everyone deserves an affordable, safe place to call home,” said Melinda Clemons, vice president and Detroit market leader, Enterprise Community Partners. “Through this partnership, the team will help thousands of Detroiters stay in their homes and ensure that those homes remain affordable for years to come.”

Another challenge facing Detroit is that a number of affordable or low-income properties are in need of repairs or upgrades, either for health and safety or because of physical obsolescence. The Preservation Partnership team will tackle this issue, as well.

“The Preservation Partnership underscores the City’s commitment to making sure that all Detroiters have access to not only affordable places to live, but safe and quality ones, too,” said Donald Rencher, director of the Detroit Housing & Revitalization Department. “By tackling a number of issues regarding affordability in our city all at once, and by bringing this incredible team together, we will make Detroit a better place for more people to call home.”

The Preservation Partnership team will support this work by identifying at-risk properties, and developing and implementing action plans that will ensure these properties are able to retain quality affordable units in the long term. This work will be supported by policy interventions and efforts to streamline coordination among stakeholders. 

“The Preservation Partnership is the realization of a longtime vision of bringing experts from a variety of fields together to launch an all-encompassing approach to preserving affordable housing in the city of Detroit and keeping Detroiters in their homes,” said Julie Schneider, the deputy director of HRD who led the effort to create the partnership. “This is an initiative that has been so close to my heart given the incredible importance that we preserve not only affordable housing, but a Detroit for everyone.” 

Additionally, preservation work will dovetail with the Affordable Housing Leverage Fund (AHLF), which the City launched to increase the amount of capital available to invest in affordable housing and increase the frequency of funding availability to improve the pace of affordable housing development and preservation. Action plans developed by the Partnership team will create a pipeline of projects that can be served by AHLF financing.

Detroit-based United Community Housing Coalition (UCHC) will be engaging tenants to be sure that plans for preservation are informed by resident needs and concerns.

“Navigating housing affordability and government programs can be confusing and frustrating, especially for residents,” said Claudia Sanford, director of tenant housing for UCHC. “UCHC will ensure that the decisions and recommendations that the partnership makes will have the greatest impact and do the most good in the community by ensuring that Detroiters’ needs are addressed.”

Finally, as part of the larger preservation work, CHN Housing Partners and Cinnaire are partnering to develop and deliver a unique lease-purchase program for residents in single-family rental units developed as part of the LIHTC program. Eligible renters will be supported in becoming first-time homebuyers through a number of program components, including down-payment assistance and pre- and post-purchase counseling. In addition to preserving affordability, this program builds equity for low-income residents, improving the quality of single-family housing stock, and stabilizing neighborhoods.

“This program ensures homeownership opportunities become a reality for the many often left out of a primary way to build wealth in this country,” said Lucius Vassar, senior vice president, Detroit Market Leader for Cinnaire.  “Homeownership sets the stage for economic security for low-income families to secure lasting stability through investment in one’s self, home, and community.”

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