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Whitmer promotes $100 million affordable housing plan at Flint apartments

Published: Jul. 29, 2021 at 4:33 PM EDT
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FLINT, Mich. (WJRT) - Gov. Gretchen Whitmer in Flint on Thursday, touting her plan to invest $100 million in safe and affordable housing across the state.

Whitmer spoke at Coolidge Park Apartments, which is a former elementary school that’s been converted to low-income housing for 54 households. State law requires the $100 million be spent in areas facing high poverty rates and areas that are economically disadvantaged.

The governor’s plan would help around 6,000 people find a home by creating and rehabilitating roughly 2,000 rental units. The plan would also mean hundreds of millions of dollars in private funding, helping to stimulate local economies and create of more than 1,500 good paying jobs.

“We can boost homeownership by helping with down payments or security deposits or foreclosures. We can help people facing homelessness or those who have disabilities,” said Glenn Wilson, president and CEO of Communities First Inc.

He used to attend school at the former Coolidge Park Elementary. He never could have known back then that he would be part of converting his elementary school to a housing complex. The former classrooms are now apartment units.

“The building was dilapidated. It was closed for several years, so at that time we just had to come in and tear the guts out of it that was left,” Wilson said.

Communities First is a nonprofit that helps to build better communities through affordable housing and economic development. The organization received $1 million from the Michigan Economic Development Corp. and roughly $13 million from the Michigan State Housing Development Authority to turn the school into housing.

“The project turned out wonderful, and now we have 54 families living here in quality affordable housing,” Wilson said.

But the work to bring more affordable housing in Flint and other areas is far from over.

“There is not a lot of quality, accessible -- and when I say accessible, I’m talking about people that have disabilities -- everything is built with steps in our community,” Wilson said.

He said Flint has lost over 2,000 units in the last eight to nine years on top of a need for 5,000 more units. So the need is certainly there for at least 7,000 units in Flint.

The $100 million will be distributed as grants to developers working on affordable housing projects, especially those targeting workforce housing and so-called “middle housing” for people transitioning from low-income to moderate income thresholds.

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