City of Ferndale Approves Affordable Housing Study

City of Ferndale Approves Affordable Housing Study

(Crystal A. Proxmire, June 25, 2019)

Ferndale, MI – Ferndale City Council voted Monday to take a data-driven approach to tackling the need for affordable housing in Ferndale, approving the hiring of Lisa Sturtevant and Associates to conduct a study and make recommendations.

City Planner Jordan Twardy explained that the consultants would give an independent third party look at where the city is, as well as recommendations for what the city should be aiming for and how to get there.

The goal, he said, is to “preserve it where it exists and encourage it where it isn’t.”

Discussions of affordable housing have increased as new developments are adding rental units to the city, while prices for rent continue to climb.

On December 18, 2017 City Council adopted an Inclusive Housing Policy that requires new developments with 25 or more units receiving tax incentives or using publically owned land have at least 25% of the units set at affordable rates.  The city is limited by state law from requiring it for new developments on private land that don’t have incentives.

Ferndale also created a committee to review Requests For Proposals (RFPs) for a consultant to do the Housing Study.  On the committee were Councilperson Melanie Piana, Councilperson Raylon Leeks-May, Kate Baker of the Ferndale Planning Commission, then-DDA Director Barry Hicks, then-City Manager April Lynch, CED Director Jordan Twardy, Planning Manager Justin Lyons, and Sustainability Planner Erin Quetell.

The selection committee approved the bid submitted by Lisa Sturtevant and Associates, LLC (LSA) from Alexandria Virginia, not to exceed $70,000.

LSA services will include the following tasks:

Task A. Definition and Goals

A-1 Market Analysis

A-2 Define Inclusionary Housing

A-3 Define Inclusive Housing Goals

A-4 Propose a Policy Framework

Task B. Metrics

B-1 Set Metrics for Each Goal

B-2 Develop a Monitoring Plan

Task C. Baseline Assessment

C Baseline Assessment with Advisory Group

Task D.  Action Items

D-1 Short-Term Recommendations

D-2 Longer-Term Recommendations

D-3 Evaluation and Assessment

E. Final Plan

Basically, Twardy explained, Sturtevant and her team will help the city decide “How do we measure progress?  Who measures progress? And How often do we measure progress?”

Councilperson Piana noted that 14% of people in Ferndale are in poverty, and said “we are looking at everybody who lives in Ferndale.”

That includes the workforce that keeps the various restaurants, shops, factories, warehouses, and offices going, as well as the older adults who may want to transition from a house to a smaller apartment or assisted living facility.

“There’s not enough supply for our aging population, and that is true throughout the region,” Piana said.

“The City has been hearing for over a year about the need to look at our housing supply, as our city continues to prosper in many ways… [We need] an outside professional collecting the data.  I’m in favor of data-driven discussions.”

Councilperson Leaks-May lives on the west side of Ferndale near the Jefferson Oaks public housing development that opened earlier this year.  There a former school was converted into apartments and the surrounding land used for affordably-priced townhouses.  Leaks-May was on the Ferndale School Board when the decision was made to sell the property for the housing.  “I know there are families there who attend Ferndale Schools and wouldn’t be able to live here otherwise,” she said.  “I’m proud.  That is one of the best things we did on School Board.”

The study will include a team of staff as well as public engagement.  The final report is expected to come back to City Council in Feb. 2020.

Previous stories:

Ferndale Adopts Requirement for Affordable Housing in New Developments (12/19/2017)

More Middle Housing Choices Coming to Ferndale (05/25/2017)

Lack of Affordable Housing Impacts Throughout Oakland County (11/27/2018)

Ferndale Housing Residents Tour Properties to see RAD Results (10/23/2018)

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