Detroit Housing Leaders Share Actions to Help with Affordable Housing Shortage

In Detroit, over half of the city’s renters are “cost burdened,” paying over 30 percent of their income on rent, according to a city. There is a noticeable lack of housing for extremely low-income families which is alarming because a third of the population lives below the poverty line.


Also, with Detroit’s unemployment rate rising because of the COVID pandemic, keeping people in their homes and boosting access to affordable housing is crucial especially during this economically unstable time.


Nationwide, the numbers are not that much better with nearly a third of all U.S. households spending over 30 percent of their income on rent alone. Rental prices have increased 150 percent over the last 10 years while earnings have, primarily, remained the same. What is a city grappling with these issues to do?


Melinda Clemons, vice president & market leader of Enterprise Community Partners’ Detroit office, and Marion McFadden, senior vice president of public policy discussed the importance of affordable housing for local communities as it relates to the incoming presidential administration.


Because of the pandemic, millions of Americans have had to file for unemployment and without another stimulus package, roughly 30 to 40 million are at risk of eviction.


Over the next decade, President-elect Joe Biden plans to invest $640 billion to increase access to affordable and stable housing.


“We’re deeply concerned that COVID-19 is impacting African American families in negative ways,” McFadden said, adding that Black employees are more than likely to be laid off because of COVID. “We don’t know how long it is going to take to get back to the levels where we were back in March.”


McFadden added that from renters who want to become homeowners to people who are struggling to pay rent, the unique affordable housing situations are wide for many.


“In order to achieve those goals Congress is going to have to approve the big idea — things like providing more money for affordable housing,” she said, adding that one of the first things Detroit residents can look for in the new year would be an extension of the prohibition on evictions and foreclosures from the federal government. “Because what we have on the books at the federal level expires this year [for an eviction and foreclosure moratorium].”


She added that emergency rental assistance is currently available around the country and that will continue to be available at the beginning of the year.


Clemons said that to qualify residents must prove that their household has been negatively impacted because of COVID-19. She added that currently the city of Detroit offers emergency rental assistance through the Wayne Metropolitan Community Action Agency.


“They are handling emergency rental assistance for residents in the city of Detroit,” she said, adding that she is looking forward to seeing what Biden has in store for housing needs. “We’re excited that the new administration has already dedicated resources for affordable housing.”


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