Ypsilanti celebrates $17.9M housing development
Ypsilanti — After being displaced from Flint in the midst of the city’s water crisis two years ago, Janea Davis found living in homeless shelters.
The 36-year-old mother of four now has a brand new home in New Parkridge, a $17.9 million affordable housing development in Ypsilanti.
“I was very excited to move into a brand-new-built home,” Davis said Wednesday during a ribbon cutting for the development north of Interstate 94 and west of S. Hamilton Street. “Me and my children love it. We needed that foundation. The fact that I was told that we get to work with case managers to help with barriers for our families, that’s a plus, too.”
Davis joined community leaders and development partners as they cut the ribbon for the 86-unit development consisting of one-, two- and three-bedroom apartments and townhouses.
The Ypsilanti Housing Commission and Chesapeake Community Advisors developed the project, which replaces the 70-year-old Parkridge public housing complex.
The previous complex was in disrepair and pretty bleak, said Zac Fosler, executive director of the Ypsilanti Housing Commission. Four years ago, the commission took the first step in asking residents what kind of community they would like.
“We went back to the drawing board with that resident input, came up with a site plan and conceived a very different approach to the existing layout,” he said. “What we did was rather than this collection of multi-family buildings where everything faces in and we have these dark spots where crime just kind of festers, we wanted to integrate this development into the fabric of this neighborhood, which is primarily single-family homes.”
Each unit was given parking spaces as well as a frontyard and backyard that residents could call their own and feel a sense of ownership, Fosler said. The units are at capacity with a closed waiting list, Fosler said.
Washtenaw County Commissioner Ricky Jefferson said the development is a good fit for the neighborhood.
“The revitalization of the Parkridge means a lot to this neighborhood, and it greatly improves the housing conditions,” he said.
The development was funded by a mix of public and private dollars. UnitedHealthcare was the largest investor in the development, donating $8 million. The company worked with Cinnaire and Minnesota Equity Fund to utilize Low Income Housing Tax Credits that were approved by the Michigan State Housing Development Authority.
Rebuilt Ypsilanti housing complex shows dreams come true, officials say
YPSILANTI, MI - Ypsilanti resident Denise Warford has returned home to raise her own family in a neighborhood her family has lived in for decades.
Warford's grandmother was one of the first tenants at Parkridge Homes, where thousands of African-American auto workers lived in segregated housing on Ypsilanti's south side in the 1940s as production at the nearby Willow Run Bomber Plant peaked during World War II.
Now Warford has returned, having lived in the housing complex in the '80s, to live in a two-bedroom unit of the recently completed New Parkridge housing complex with her four-year-old son, Amir.
The difference between living at Parkridge then and now?
"Heaven and hell," Warford said with a laugh, adding she has seen a lot of progress on the site over the past few months. "It's amazing, from the time I applied to now. It's home."
She joined a group of residents, community and government officials Wednesday, Jan. 24 to commemorate the grand opening of the nearly $18 million subsidized and affordable housing development known as New Parkridge, 831 Hilyard Robinson Way.
New Parkridge is made up of 86 two-family and duplex housing units based on "New Urbanism" designs with front porches, sidewalks, driveways and yards, developed by the Ypsilanti Housing Commission and Chesapeake Community Advisors to replace the aging Parkridge Homes previously located on the site.
Having just moved out of a house, it was not just the new construction and design Warford said encouraged her to return to New Parkridge but the support services provided through Eastern Michigan University's Family Empowerment Program.
"The people at the rental office are amazing, with everything I've needed," Warford said. "So far, it's been wonderful. The support here is amazing."
That matters not just to her and her family but to other families that have small children and need help accessing services like healthcare.
"That makes a huge difference," Warford said.
Tiny snowflakes fell on the newly-built development Wednesday as business and government officials talked about the collaboration that took place to make New Parkridge happen.
Those in attendance included officials from the Ypsilanti Housing Commission, Washtenaw County Board of Commissioners, UnitedHealthcare, Michigan State Housing Development Authority and Eastern Michigan University.
E. Renee Smith, chair of the Ypsilanti Housing Commission, was inspired by Martin Luther King's "I Have a Dream" speech in her remarks kicking off the grand opening ceremony.