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Posted on Sat, Jun 29, 2013 : 5:58 a.m.

Ypsilanti Township to buy 10 properties, sell them to Habitat for Humanity to stabilize neighborhoods

By Tom Perkins


A home at 1133 Davis St. is one of 10 properties Ypsilanti Township purchased and will sell to Habitat For Humanity.

Tom Perkins | For

Editor's note: Rob Nissly's first name has been corrected in this article.

Ten more Ypsilanti Township properties will soon be developed or renovated by Habitat for Humanity of Huron Valley.

As part of a new program, Ypsilanti Township will purchase the 10 properties for $64,000, then sell them to Habitat.

The homes and vacant lots were foreclosed on and the township is purchasing them from the Washtenaw County Treasurer’s Office.

The homes and prices include include:

The township also purchased vacant lots on Share Avenue, Norhtlawn Avenue and South Wallace Boulevard.

Under Michigan law, municipalities have the first chance to buy foreclosed properties that are headed to the tax foreclosure auction. The maneuver is designed to help Habitat renovate more properties, and the Ypsilanti Township Board of Trustees unanimously approved the purchase at its June 24 meeting.

“Of all the things we’ve done together as a board, this is probably the most valuable,” Clerk Karen Lovejoy Roe said.

The township has a contract with Habitat that says the nonprofit will buy the properties for the same price the township purchased them for, plus a $750 administrative fee for each property.

The purchase price includes all back taxes and any liens.

Habitat has purchased 65 properties in Ypsilanti Township over the past five years and built on or renovated many of those properties. Habitat homeowners contribute more than $100,000 in property taxes annually and the agency has invested $5 million in the community over five years.

“They are going to take these properties and they are going to invest substantial funds, bring the homes up to and beyond code and sell them to people who can own them,” Township Attorney Doug Winters said. “It has already worked effectively and we have seen an astounding turnaround in the Gault Village neighborhood.”

Habitat has renovated more than 20 homes in Gault Village, completed 20 weatherization projects and provided nine “critical repairs” for veterans there.

“That neighborhood has been a tremendous success for us,” said Rob Nissly, Habitat’s housing director.

“These houses are great homes and Habitat For Humanity has done a remarkable job of reinvesting in this township and elevating property values,” said Supervisor Brenda Stumbo. “This is a great program and one the township should be very proud of.”

Winters said the township is doing an outstanding job using what tools it has to help turnaround destabilized neighborhoods that suffered what were among the highest foreclosure rates in the county during the recession.

“We’re utilizing what’s available and in a slow, steady line, we’ve stabilized the neighborhoods and streets that were on the tipping point to becoming very difficult to stabilize,” he said. “This guarantees home ownership, it’s less strain on our resources and it becomes a win-win-win situation.”

Tom Perkins is a freelance reporter. Contact the news desk at



Sun, Jul 7, 2013 : 8:26 p.m.

Tom, could you or one of the Ann arbor news reporters please look into how many houses Ronnie Person (elected official in wahtenaw co.) owns in West Willow in Ypsilanti and how many back taxes he owes on them? Aren't they rentals?


Sun, Jul 7, 2013 : 8:10 p.m.

Living close by the house on Prospect, I am concerned about who moves in it very much. I was very interested in purchasing it and making sure it has a good, quiet person in it who kept the house up. I don't know why I expected the township to give a taxpayer neighbor a chance to buy it an an even higher price. I would really just like to move and get out of ypsilanti township at this point. I just really don't have much hope for a good neighbor experience out of this. I've always been a democrat, but I really wish a good republican team would run against the bunch that's in office now. No, make that a NEW democratic team.


Mon, Jul 1, 2013 : 8:26 p.m.

Good way to reduce and reuse property for others to use. Sad that to hear that someone failed on their mortgage or walked away like one neighbor did and never looked back. House is a mess.


Sat, Jun 29, 2013 : 10:08 p.m.

It's time to restore the RCTC Contruction Technology class and have them use these sites.


Sat, Jun 29, 2013 : 6:34 p.m.

Habitat for humanity has become the largest home builder in the country. This means the paid labor force for all of their homes is replaced with volunteers, which means more people are put out of work and will require Habitat homes. The unintended consequences of social engineering...............


Sat, Jun 29, 2013 : 10:15 p.m.

Have you seen all the Pulte neighborhoods? They ceased most building during the recession, but they are hammering away again. Maybe you should be more concerned about the monopoly that is Pulte.


Sat, Jun 29, 2013 : 7:14 p.m.

So based on what you are saying, any form of volunteering is bad because it supposedly puts a person out of work? And all forms of volunteering is social engineering (which I don't think means what you think it means)?


Sat, Jun 29, 2013 : 2:42 p.m.

While I admire the work Habitat does and has done , I have mixed feelings about this procedure. First off these homes would have been purchased by investors and rehabbed so nothing has changed here. I will bet that the turnaround time would have been much less. Habitat does nothing fast , they do a great job but the unsighliness takes too long. I don't think the law was designed for this purpose, it deters private enterprise and promotes government control when used in this manner. Either way things are turning around and that's great! Wonder who decided which homes to " cherry pick"?


Sun, Jun 30, 2013 : 4:11 a.m.

Jondhall, just curious. Do you STAY in Ypsilanti Township? And if so, what is the problem with allowing a proven non-profit program like Habitat for Humanity to rehab these houses and sell them to deserving families -- who by the way assist with not only the rehab process but now have ownership in a home they can AFFORD?


Sat, Jun 29, 2013 : 5:34 p.m.

Define slum lord...ok. Drive up and down certain streets, you can tell the difference between homes that are owner occupied and those that are rented out, especially near EMU. I rented in the area for 4 years before I recently bought a home and had the chance to meet a good deal of landlords while we were in our search, so I am well educated on landlords in the area. Some of the landlords believed that their role in the process ended with collecting rent. Some of those landlords, and I speak from personal experience, do the absolutely minimum upkeep of the home, do not take care of the grounds or require their tenants to do so, etc,. A good deal are absentee who are stuck in homes they cannot sell and do not want to put a dime into, so they rent it out and the house is out of sight and out of mind. And the city inspects the home to make sure it is code compliant and that it is it. Just because their is a fee doesn't mean that it is an inspection that punishes landlords for failing to keep their houses up. I am not lumping all landlords into one pot as slumlords, but Ypsi and the townships do have a good deal of them.


Sat, Jun 29, 2013 : 4:29 p.m.

@ beardown: Your Definition of slum lord is what ? All rental properties in Ypsilanti Township are INSPECTED and a FEE paid before they can be tenant occupied! You have no idea now the process works! FYI when a landlord buys a property it's on the tax rolls with 18 more mills, when Habitat acquires its off the tax rolls for two years . Next time get a better education before you call someone a slum landlord !


Sat, Jun 29, 2013 : 3:19 p.m.

If I remember right, Habitat is required to put a family in the house who will own it and live in it, not rent it. If they dropped the price down to Detroit prices, it would be swooped up by a slum lord and rented out and the blight would continue. At least this gives it a chance to be owned by a family who will try and rebuild the community. That may be a pipe dream, but it beats an automatic slum lord.

Dog Guy

Sat, Jun 29, 2013 : 1:48 p.m.

Politicians misuse the word "invest," but this time it is used appropriately.

no flamers!

Sat, Jun 29, 2013 : 12:07 p.m.

Very encouraging. Great to see the Township leaders take this initiative. People are working hard and it is appreciated.