Ann Arbor needs to consider affordable housing as market-rate housing prices climb
Ann Arbor has endured a lot of changes during the 10-plus years after officials decided to develop a downtown parking lot into a public-private, mixed-use development that would bring more residents downtown.
The result of that effort is now taking its place on the city skyline, as Ann Arbor City Apartments prepares to take reservations for its 155 units.
Many of the changes are known and obvious to anyone who’s spent any time here at all, and many also have let Ann Arbor grow as a business and entertainment destination.
But amid a recent report that rental rates for the apartments will top out at about $2,675 - except for the 16 units set aside as affordable under federal income guidelines for the city - we think it’s important for the city to consider a few of them:
- The demolition of the former Y - and its very-low income housing - amid promises to replace those bedrooms near downtown.
- The loss of the failed Near North affordable housing project on the northern edge of downtown.
- The redevelopment near campus that’s resulted in high-priced student housing.
- The expectation that some neighborhood rentals on the fringe of the “student area” will return to single-family homes, taking some of the lowest-priced student housing out of the city’s mix.
While we support many aspects of downtown development - including Ann Arbor City Apartments - we also caution that this town needs strong advocates for affordable housing in and near downtown. The solution won’t be easy. But the cost of not listening to concerns about our housing mix could result in the city turning into a gentrified enclave and losing the essence of what drew many people to this town in decades past.