Income

Housing market leaves renters struggling for affordable low-income properties

DETROIT (WXYZ) — Take a drive through Detroit, and you’ll be hard pressed not to hear the sounds of construction, it’s a sign of change — but not one everyone necessarily welcomes.

WXYZ’s Ameera David asked, “How long have you been looking for a new place to live?”

“It’s been a year,” Shay Hudson said.

Detroiter Shay Hudson has returned to his father’s house after being moved not once but twice, his apartments left in such disrepair. She showed us a video on her cellphone of the conditions in her last apartment.

“It’s the water coming out of the sink that goes into the bucket,” Hudson said, showing the cellphone video.

Safety was a major concern, Shay could no longer afford to stay. Ironically, she can no longer afford to move. Shay needs low-income housing, but the mother of three is recovering from a recent stroke, is claiming disability and caring for a son with autism with developmental disabilities, as well than a pre-pandemic; making ends meet was difficult.

“What percentage did you pay to live? David asked.

“Basically the whole check,” Hudson said.

His entire $600 budget was for rent — and today he’s not cutting it anymore. Rent prices continue to soar in Detroit, up 28% since last year, weighing on the most vulnerable.

“Where do you channel your frustration? David asked.

“I think the city should do something,” Hudson said.

A Detroit homeless shelter is at capacity – existing low-income properties come with waiting lists and people don’t know where to turn.

The challenge has become so severe that agencies are using covid relief funds to support families living in real hotels like this here, a practice often referred to as hospitality.

This, as criticism mounts from housing advocates who tell me they are overwhelmed with calls for help.

“A lot of this housing that’s going up isn’t for the working class, and it’s pushing Detroiters, real Detroiters, into communities they don’t want to live in,” Taura Brown said.

Taura Brown of Detroit Eviction Defense takes me to Detroit’s hottest new development – Lafayette West.

“When you look at this development here, 88 condo units,” Brown explained.

Touted by the city as an alternative for low-income Detroiters, only 20% of this $150 million apartment complex has been earmarked for affordable housing and the problem is the affordable housing rate – at 30% of income area median – for most Detroiters – is still unaffordable.

“These properties are not for low-income people,” said Ted Phillips of Unity Community Housing Coalition. “The only truly affordable housing is Section 8 and public housing.”

“And is there enough?” David asked.

“There’s not enough of that,” Phillips said.

What Ted Phillips is saying is too many evictions and displaced mothers like Shay.

“You hear all this talk about city development, but what do you see, what do you think?” David asked.

“Yes, but what about the people? This is where I was born, I was born here,” Hudson said.

For the first time in her life, Shay says she feels unwelcome in her own home, unsure of her place in Detroit’s so-called comeback tale.

If you’re a low-income person who’s barely getting by, these goodies cost you dearly.