Oak Park targeted for affordable housing project

Jennifer Chambers
The Detroit News

A Minnesota-based health care company is making an $18.3 million investment to build affordable housing in Oak Park as well as Hart in western Michigan.

On Tuesday, officials with UnitedHealthcare will announce their investment to build Jefferson Oaks, a 60-unit mixed-income project in Oak Park at the site of a vacant school near Nine Mile and Rosewood Street.

The project developer, Community Housing Network, will transform the former school into 20 apartments and build eight townhome buildings on the school campus, which will contain 40 units.

Twenty-one of the 60 units are set aside for “supportive” housing, which provides tenants with on-site services such as counseling and social services.

When completed in 2018, the project will have a community room with a library, computer lab, meeting space and a playground.

Dennis Mouras, CEO of UnitedHealthcare Community Plan of Michigan, which employs 1,100 people in Michigan and provides health care for more than 800,000 people here, said he is grateful for the opportunity to work with partners to expand affordable housing in Michigan.

“UnitedHealthcare’s investments to support affordable housing in Michigan are part of our initiative to help people live healthier lives by connecting them to housing, health care and other important services,” Mouras said in a statement.

Marc Craig, president of Community Housing Network, said his company is excited to start the construction of the project in Oak Park.

“When completed next year, Jefferson Oaks will be a model community that brings quality homes with on-site amenities for individuals and families who want a wonderful place to live and play,” Craig said in a statement.

UnitedHealthcare is investing $14.6 million in the Oak Park development. Cinnaire, an affordable housing development partner, is providing a $2.3 million permanent loan to the project.

UnitedHealthcare will also invest $3.7 million in Woodland Place Apartments in Hart, on Michigan’s west side. The 24-unit apartment community, developed by Gryphon Group and Oceana County Housing Commission, will include 12 units for people living with special needs and struggling with homelessness.

The Michigan State Housing Development Authority approved the use of Low Income Housing Tax Credits for the new developments.

Last year, UnitedHealthcare invested $16.5 million in two new affordable-housing communities in Ypsilanti and Holt. Prestwick Village in Holt is a 66-unit affordable-housing community with support services that provides new housing opportunities for individuals and families, including veterans struggling with homelessness and people with disabilities.

Since 2011, UnitedHealthcare has provided more than $350 million in financing for 56 housing development projects in 14 states, creating more than 2,700 affordable-housing units. In Michigan alone it has spent $34.8 million for four new affordable housing communities.