Many people around town have been asking me about the situation at Cross Street Village. For those of you who aren’t aware, Cross Street Village is a senior housing complex located at the site of the old Ypsilanti High School. The beautiful old building was renovated and remodeled in 1997 under the Michigan State Housing Development Authority's (MSHDA) Low Income Housing Tax Credit program that sets rental rates below market rates and are based on median incomes of the area. The terms of the sale required the developer to agree to maintain the rent-controlled status for a period of 99 years, but a loophole in the law allowed the developer to begin phasing the building over to market rates beginning in September of this year.
After hearing complaints of dramatic rent increases, I conducted a series of meetings, both on-property and at a nearby church, for residents to voice their concerns to management and representatives from MSHDA. While our state officials were sympathetic, they maintained that the business decisions of the owners of Cross Street Village were within the law, and no legal action could compel them to reverse their decision.
It is my understanding that, as of Sept. 21, the current residents of Cross Street Village began a three-year grace period during which time their rents will still be tied to the Low Income Housing Tax Credit. Incoming residents will be subject to market rates.
The building’s owners are no longer obliged to lease to seniors aged 55 and older, but I have been told it is their intention to keep Cross Street Village a complex for older adults. That designation is not bound under any legal agreement and could be reversed at any time without notice.
Our seniors deserve better. If it is legal to price residents out of their retirement homes, then the laws need to be changed. I have been working with a coalition of elected officials, including Congresswoman Debbie Dingell, Washtenaw County Commissioner Ricky Jefferson and the Ypsilanti City Council, to ensure that Ypsilanti’s seniors are informed of their housing rights, options and responsibilities. I have also partnered with the Area Agency on Aging Association to raise awareness of this issue at a statewide level and to launch a grassroots effort to affect change.
I am committed to helping our residents navigate this difficult period. If you or a loved one is a senior experiencing housing difficulties, please feel free to contact my office, or reach out directly to the University of Michigan’s Housing Bureau for Seniors at (734) 998-9339.
State Rep. Ronnie Peterson