You are viewing this article in the archives. For the latest breaking news and updates in Ann Arbor and the surrounding area, see
Posted on Tue, Oct 23, 2012 : 5:59 a.m.

EMU receives $250K grant to develop family self-sufficiency program at Hamilton Crossing

By Katrease Stafford


EMU received a $250,000 grant from the Kresge Foundation to establish a family self-sufficiency program.

Joseph Tobianski |

As the demand for affordable housing continues to increase, a $250,000 grant from the Kresge Foundation will fund a newly created program aimed at helping Ypsilanti Hamilton Crossing residents to break the cycle of poverty.

The $16 million redevelopment project of Hamilton Crossing is set to be completed in 2013, with half of the 144 units being occupied by Nov. 1.

The family self-sufficiency program was created by Eastern Michigan University and a coalition of community partners to help residents connect with available economic, educational and health resources available in the surrounding communities.

The Washtenaw County Office of Community Development contributed $500,000 in grants to the Hamilton Crossing construction project and also contributed between $20,000 and $30,000 to the development of the family self-sufficiency program.

Mary Jo Callan, Community Development Director, said the county believes that giving families some economic opportunites to develop skills, helps them get a leg up.

Callan said across the county, there's a large need for affordable housing. A 2011 report on the Washtenaw County Office of Community and Economic Development's website shows that 6,062 subsidized housing units are available across the county.

"We aren't meeting the need,"Callan said. "... The Ann Arbor Housing Commission opened up its Section 8 waiting list a month ago and they got almost 15,000 applications."

Callan said meeting the need for affordable housing will only occur if the county and communities continue to make it a priority while continuing to make key investments in projects such as Hamilton Crossing.

"We want to create a quality amount of affordable housing for people," Callan said. "It's a fundamental component of quality of life."

Hamilton Crossing, formerly known as Parkview Apartments, will be a mix of market-rate and subsidized housing units. There are 68 project-based vouchers available for Hamilton Crossing that will be assigned to low-income families that will lower their rent cost.

Individuals who receive a Section 8 voucher will be required to participate in the five-year program.

Russ Olwell, Director of the Institute for the Study of Children, Families and Communities at EMU, said the program was created to teach families on the south side of Ypsilanti to become more self-sufficient and to help children break the cycle of poverty.

"Several people who were involved in renovating what was Parkview, approached the university about getting some help and developing a family self sufficiency program for residents," Olwell said. "EMU got involved as a partner in the program. We started planning a year ago."

Olwell said planned services will include early childhood development resources, childcare, transportation, counseling and personal development, job development, links to benefits and insurance programs, parenting skills, financial and computer literacy and personal health.

The program seeks training in technology and computer support for youths, as well as access to computer hardware at below market prices. EMU already has a program, Digital Inclusion, which teaches youth how to install internet services and offer low-cost computer supplies.

Olwell said an onsite social worker will help residents access job training in high-need fields. Residents also will have an Individual Development Account set up to help families save for future housing or education needs. There will be training in financial literacy as well as a mini-incubator program for potential businesses.

"As part of the program, they will be building up an escrow account of money that will go to them when they graduate from the program," Olwell said. "A family will set some economic, education and help goals that they want to reach."

Olwell said families aren't forced to leave after five years and can receive another two years within the program, but the goal is to help them move on to potentially buying a house.

"Part of the escrow account is that they build enough money to buy a house or move somewhere else," he said. "The goal is to make people not feel trapped."

Olwell said before families are chosen to receive a voucher, they are interviewed to determine whether the program is a good fit for them.

"My hope is that this is a really good place for families and then I hope it can serve a model for other communities," Olwell said.

Ypsilanti Mayor Paul Schreiber said while it's important for people to have affordable housing, access also should be made to training that can further the quality of life for residents. Schreiber said this will be the first family self-sufficiency program implemented in the city.

The Ypsilanti Housing Commission plans to implement similar programs at its other sites throughout the area, Schreiber said.

"I think it makes all the sense in the world," Schreiber said. "This is just another example of great partnerships all throughout the county."

Katrease Stafford covers Ypsilanti for her at or 734-623-2548 and follow her on twitter.


Dog Guy

Tue, Oct 23, 2012 : 4:26 p.m.

A government program to create self-sufficiency in hereditary welfare clients . . . is bound to succeed.


Tue, Oct 23, 2012 : 2:33 p.m.

See I don't get it. Only giving someone a voucher if they enroll in this family deal. What about people that can't work and on disability? You think you are going to be able to force them to go through the program? Think again. The minute you try to force a disabled person to do something that they can't do in the first place, I bet the first call the disabled person makes is to the ADA, I know I would. They will probably see on the applications that the person or someone in the family is disabled and set that application aside. And don't say it never happens. I have seen it happen. I went to apply for an apartment a few months ago and the manager was ready to get up and show me a one bedroom apartment. She went through my application while we were walking to the empty apartment and all of a sudden she don't have the right key and don't really have time to go back and get the key and then show the apartment. I have called and left messages but never get a return call. I did file a complaint with a few agencies and they are looking into it. I'm sorry to say but I would rather live in the streets than to live in Hamilton Crossing. I don't think the program is going to work fully the way they expect. Something is going to fail some where down the line and someone will lose their job over it. Same stuff all over the place that never works. In fact I am glad you put this article in the news today, so I can try to get a hold of them and ask to be removed from the application process. I would have loved to live there but I won't be forced to do something that I physically can not do. Good Luck Hamilton Crossing, you are going to need quite a few well wishers in hopes your program works.


Tue, Oct 23, 2012 : 4:10 p.m.

Being on disability is totally different from a Sec 8 applicant that is "down on their luck"...


Tue, Oct 23, 2012 : 11:43 a.m.

Are there any programs out there that teach a nearly guaranteed method to break the cycle of poverty? Graduate from high school, have children after you get married, apply for entry level jobs and show up on time. Work hard and move up the ladder.

Steven Taylor

Tue, Oct 23, 2012 : 2:19 p.m.

Liz, it's been proven time and again statistically that what McGiver has stated, while not perfect, offers the best chances at a stable future.


Tue, Oct 23, 2012 : 12:05 p.m.

Funny... your implication is that even if you follow these "rules," you will evade poverty. I wish this were the case.


Tue, Oct 23, 2012 : 11:02 a.m.

I'm hoping they'll offer a lot of these services on site. That's what it seems like from the article, but it doesn't state it definitively.


Tue, Oct 23, 2012 : 10:52 a.m.

Wow, that's a lot of money spent on that whole thing. I wonder if that place will turn out to be a safe, well-kept and enjoyable place to live. You know, making all that money worth it and having it pay off in terms of social benefit. The family self-sufficiency program "[helps] residents connect with available economic, educational and health resources available in the surrounding communities." So does that mean they just tell people about stuff that exists, maybe drive them to those places? If this is the website for the same place, it doesn't really seem like there's a lot of connecting going on: