Updated Thursday, July 13, 2017, 3:30 PM.
Roughly 75 people, many of them Seniors, picketed and protested in front of Cross Street Village Apartments in Ypsilanti Wednesday evening, July 12, 2017. The Save Our Seniors Protest/Picket was hosted by Ypsilanti City Council members Beth Bashert and Pete Murdock, as well as Cross Street Village resident Jayna Eckler.
According to a post in the Save Our Seniors picket and protest event, organizers believe that seniors are being forced to move out of Cross Street Village. According to the post, "All because the owner of this subsidized housing building, and the recipient of many tax benefits, is going to change the building to market residency rates." Protesters, as well as some of the residents of Cross Street Village Apartments who participated in the protest/picket Wednesday, are concerned that the rent at Cross Street Village will be unaffordable in the future.
Rent increases have raised concerns in Washtenaw County, SE Michigan and throughout the entire country. There is a legitimate issue in regard to affordable housing in general, particularly in Washtenaw County. Housing affordability problems in Washtenaw County reflect a nationwide problem.
On May 30 of this year, Purple Walrus Press was contacted by James Harrigan, Executive Vice President of Independent Management Services. IMS is the management company for Cross Street Village. According to statements made to Purple Walrus Press in two separate conversations in May and early June of 2017, Harrigan said that, and this is paraphrased, There have been rent increases, but this is not unusual and is in line with normal business practice, and that the increase is needed for general maintenance of the building and grounds.
In the May Purple Walrus Press conversation Harrigan also stated that the rent increases are do to capitol needs and emphasized that the Cross Street Village building is old. Harrigan stated in May that prior notice of rent increases were given to residents, adding that moving forward, residents will be given up to 60 days notice in regard to leases.
As reported by Purple Walrus Press in May, Harrigan stated to Purple Walrus Press that Cross Street Village is for sale, which allows the owner of Cross Street Village the opportunity to exercise an option that could result in the property no longer being designated affordable housing in the future. This allows Cross Street Village to, if they choose, rent at market rate,
As stated in the Purple Walrus Press article published in May, 2017, there is something called the Low Income Housing Tax credit Program (LIHTC). According to the Housing Justice National Housing Law Project, "When the LIHTC program was initially created, it only required a 15 year compliance period. Therefore, properties developed between 1986 and 1989 only have 15 year compliance periods. Post-1989 developments have at least 30 year restrictions as required by the Revenue Reconciliation Act. However, the statute allows for owners to opt out by requesting that the state HFA finds a "Qualified contract" purchaser to buy the property during the fourteenth year of the initial 15 year compliance period. If no purchaser is found, the owner may exit the LIHTC program. If a purchaser is found, or if the owner will not sell the property, the use restrictions extend to the full 30 years."
Granted, this information is wordy and complicated, but remains key as far as thoroughly understanding the issue. In essence, there is no wrong doing on the part of ownership. There is however, a large problem as far as the availability of affordable housing in Washtenaw County, and the entire nation. This issue of lack of affordable housing does need to be addressed, but addressing it on a legislative level may be more appropriate. An option would be to petition congressional leaders and local representatives in order to tackle the problem of affordable housing in Washtenaw County as opposed to blaming business owners.
Of the roughly 75 protesters picketing in front of Cross Street Village Apartments, several carried signs with statements that were quite provocative and could be interpreted as offensive and over the top. Examples of picket signs that could be interpreted as offensive were signs that read, "Krueger is Killing Seniors", "Krueger Kills Seniors", "Krueger A Tax Program Whore'", and "Krueger Greed Kills."
Affordable housing is a very important issue and senior citizens in Washtenaw County and throughout the nation should not have worry about making rent payments, but perhaps a more constructive way to address this issue is through legislation and petitioning congressional leaders instead of targeting business owners. This is a complicated issue, to be sure.
UPDATE: As was accurately pointed out to PWP by a reader, a table was set up at the protest Wednesday that provided post cards allowing space for comments. Address lists were provided for mailing the cards to officials on a state and federal level. State Representative Ronnie Peterson participated in the protest Wednesday.
Photos Purple Walrus Press.
|Protest in front of Cross Street Village Apartments Wednesday. Purple Walrus Press photo.|