Detroit unveils plans for 183 affordable units in four neighborhoods

Sarah Rahal
The Detroit News

Detroit — Mayor Mike Duggan and Michigan housing officials unveiled plans Thursday for 183 affordable units in four Detroit neighborhoods.

The units will be built with $38 million distributed to developers over 10 years from Low-Income Housing Tax Credits through Michigan State Housing Development Authority. Detroit received the most LIHTC awards of any city in the state, according to city officials.

Duggan made the announcement at the vacant St. Matthew’s School in the MorningSide neighborhood, one of the four awardees this year. Duggan grew up in the neighborhood and was baptized at the historic school's attached church.

Mayor Mike Duggan gives his remarks during a press conference to announce the city has obtained $38 million in low-income housing tax credits (LIHTC) from the State of Michigan to build 200 new units of quality affordable housing for Detroiters at very low income levels at St. Matthew Catholic School in Detroit.

"If you are a renter, you found that the neighborhood has gotten much more expensive and it is our responsibility, as public officials, to address that and to build affordable housing fast enough so that no one is forced out of this city," Duggan said. 

It's the third time the city has been able to convert a shuttered school into affordable housing turning classrooms into apartments, he said.

Following a $17.4 million conversion by the Catholic Charities of Southeast Michigan, the vacant school will become the Residences at St. Matthew with 46 units of affordable housing.

The project received $9.8 million in LIHTC funding from MSHDA and 25 MSHDA project-based vouchers for permanent supportive housing units, ensuring new tenants will not pay more than 30% of their income for rent and utilities.

The project is the first time that the City of Detroit’s Housing and Revitalization Department has offered a rental subsidy reserve and "the first of many," said Kelly Vickers, chief development and investment officer for the department. The city also spent $3 million in federal pandemic relief HOME funds on the project.

Donald Rencher, HRD Group Executive for the City of Detroit, gives his remarks during a press conference at St. Matthew Catholic School to announce that the city has obtained $38 million in low-income housing tax credits (LIHTC) from the State of Michigan to build 200 new affordable housing units in Detroit.

Three other Detroit LIHTC awardees are new construction projects replacing empty lots in the Woodbridge, Cass Corridor and Old Redford areas.

"We understand the need for affordable housing," Vickers said. "Since 2015, 6,500 affordable units have been preserved and 1,400 new ones have been added."

No estimate of how many Detroiters will qualify was available, said HRD Group Executive Donald Rencher, adding affordable units will likely be filled prior to projects opening and tenants should apply in advance.

The rental units are available for households earning no more than 60% of the area median income — meaning that a single individual must earn less than $37,620, or a family of two must year no more than $42,960, to qualify.

Mayor Mike Duggan gives his remarks during a press conference to announce the city has obtained $38 million in low-income housing tax credits (LIHTC) from the State of Michigan to build 200 new units of quality affordable housing for Detroiters at very low income levels at St. Matthew Catholic School in Detroit.

The units will range from about $940 a month for one-bedroom and $1,074 for a two-bedroom. However, more than half of the 183 units will be set aside for residents earning 30% to 50% of the area median income, with rent as low as $470 a month for a one-bedroom unit.

Most tenants will pay no more than 30% of their income, Vickers said.

Council member Latisha Johnson, who represents District 4, and at-large Council member Mary Waters attended the announcement saying the renovation of St. Matthews will bring new life for the 100-year-old landmark.

"I think it's important that we have socio-economic diversity within our neighborhoods and this helps us to see that. Several of us have been pushing for truly affordable housing in the city and this is just the beginning," Johnson said.

The school opened in 1930 but closed in 2000 due to low enrollment. Enrollment reached its zenith in 1966, with 1,214 students.

St. Matthew's project team is led by Catholic Charities of Southeast Michigan, a nonprofit that assists more than 20,000 people of diverse faiths and cultures across southeast Michigan.

The former school gymnasium will be converted into an on-site primary and mental health care clinic for residents through a community partnership with Ascension Michigan. The on-site service agency will be Southwest Counseling Solutions.

Cinnaire Solutions, a nonprofit housing development organization, is developing St. Matthews with Ethos Development Partners, an expert in converting former Catholic schools into housing. Ethos Development also assisted with the former Transfiguration School in Campau/Banglatown which opened earlier this year.

The beginning of planning for the St. Matthew project started pre-pandemic, said Paul Propson, CEO of Catholic Charities of Southeast Michigan.

"We want to bring together in Detroit what we've seen happen in other cities, which is to have the archdiocese and its parishes, Catholic charities and Catholic hospitals like Ascension bring affordable housing with supportive services and that's what we've been able to do here," said Propson, who added his family grew up in the neighborhood and parents married at the church. "We're so happy to be neighbors here."

Paul Propson, CEO of Catholic Charities of SE Michigan, gives his remarks during a press conference at St. Matthew Catholic School to announce that the city has obtained $38 million in low-income housing tax credits (LIHTC) from the State of Michigan to build 200 new affordable housing units in Detroit.

The four projects equate a total investment of $60.9 million across the four neighborhoods, city officials said.

A look at the other three Detroit LIHTC recipients this year:

4401 Rosa Parks

A development at Rosa Parks Boulevard and Calumet in the Woodbridge neighborhood will replace a vacant lot that was once part of the Wilbur Wright School campus. Construction is to start in the first quarter of next year and wrap up in the third quarter of 2024.

Developers Cinnaire Solutions and Woodbridge Neighborhood Development Corp was awarded $8.9 million over 10 years for the project for 60 units. Total development will cost $16.7 million.

  • 11 units at 30% AMI
  • 15 units at 40% AMI
  • 14 units at 60% AMI
  • 20 units at market rate

Greystone Senior Living

A vacant site on Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard, just west of Cass Avenue, will consist of 49 one- and two-bedroom units across four floors. Construction is expected to begin in early 2023 and wrap up by the end of the year.

Greystone senior living.

The project, to be developed by Cass Corridor Neighborhood Development Corp., at 440 Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. was awarded $8.2 million and will cost $12.6 million.

Of the 49 units:

  • 13 units at 30% AMI
  • 3 units at 40% AMI
  • 33 units at 60% AMI

Orchard Village Apartments

Developers CHN Housing Partners and Detroit Blight Busters are creating a 48-unit Orchard Village Apartments at Orchard and Santa Clara streets. The two-bedroom Orchard Village apartments will be reserved for incomes of 30% to 60% AMI. Construction is expected to begin in the spring of 2023 and complete in 2024.

Orchard Village Apartments

The area was selected because it has seen $120 million of investment in the last five years and Jason Headen, Vice President of CHN Housing, said they hope their development will bring in more growth for the Old Redford community.

Located at 21525-21652 Orchard St., the project was awarded $10.8 million and will cost $14.3 million to develop.

Of the 48 units:

  • 10 units at 30% AMI
  • 10 units at 40% AMI
  • 3 units at 50% AMI
  • 25 units at 60% AMI

srahal@detroitnews.com

Twitter: @SarahRahal_