You have before you today an opportunity to take a historic step toward alleviating the affordable housing crisis that affects not only our city, but our entire county, by voting YES on DC-6, to ask the voters to approve an affordable housing millage.
This housing crisis is something we’ve been aware of for many years. And we’ve been aware of the solutions for many years, as well. But you have the honor of being the ones that get to approve the solutions, and we are all counting on you to do so.
It is necessary to get this proposal right. And that’s why a dedicated group of nonprofits has been working out the details for many years. As a result of this work, the proposal includes some features the importance of which might not be obvious.
For example: This millage is proposed to run for 20 years, and not a shorter amount of time. That is necessary in order to make the maximum use of the money. The best way to leverage it is to use these local dollars to unlock available federal funding. But federal funding agencies need to know that the projects they fund have local funding committed for long periods of time. If we had a shorter run, we would miss out on these opportunities to leverage our local money.
Federal funding also often requires that subsidized housing provide supportive services. Supportive services are a crucial component of providing housing to the most vulnerable populations. In order to best leverage our money, and in order to give people what they need, we must provide supportive services along with simply building buildings.
You need not fear: There is strong support for this millage in the community! The nonprofits that crafted this proposal hired a top polling firm, and asked if voters would support a millage to construct housing and provide supportive services. Overwhelmingly, the voters did support it: 77% of voters in Ann Arbor, including at least 75% of voters in every ward, support it.
So, this millage is not only necessary: It will also be effective. And it will also be popular.
There is no one solution to the affordable housing crisis – we need to do a lot of things all at once. But this is one high-impact thing we can do, and it provides a crucial piece of the strategy. It would be hard to tackle the affordable housing crisis without this, no matter what other strategies we tried. It will still be hard to tackle the affordable housing crisis, even if we use this strategy, in addition to any other ones you may be thinking of, all at the same time. We need to do it all. And in order to do it all, we need to do this.
The time has been taken to get this right. Ann Arbor is ready. We are just waiting for you, and we hope that you are ready.