LANSING — A proposal introduced by state Rep. Stephanie Chang (D-Detroit) will address housing issues facing seniors throughout Michigan. As development projects may displace many long-time residents of Detroit through gentrification, Chang’s three bills — House Bills 6180, 6181, and 6250 — will help seniors have access to affordable housing and allow them the opportunity to age in place.

“I began a Senior Advisory Council in my district three years ago and have since convened quarterly meetings to hear directly from our seniors about the challenges they face. With so many development projects taking place across Detroit, we know that housing values are rising, and rent and property taxes are growing with them,” Chang said. “While that can be beneficial in a lot of ways, it is important we don’t leave our seniors behind during this process. These bills were crafted based on those conversations, along with valuable input from Associate Professor Tam Perry with the Wayne State University School of Social Work. I believe they will help us have a meaningful impact on seniors throughout our state.”

According to the Senior Housing Preservation-Detroit, in the next ten years more than 2,000 seniors could be displaced from their homes and communities. Chang’s proposal adds protections to help seniors age in their own homes by doing the following:

  • HB 6180 would require the local governments of cities with a poverty rate 20 percent or higher to use an Area Median Income developed specifically for that municipality when making a determination concerning affordable housing, rather than an AMI for a broader region.
  • HB 6181 would require the Michigan State Housing Development Authority to develop and distribute best practice guidelines for assessing the needs of older adults who are displaced from their homes due to a rise in the cost of housing that is a residential revitalization and conversion project.
  • HB 6250 would protect vulnerable seniors from the effects of gentrification by freezing the taxable value of the primary residence for low-income seniors who have lived in a residence continuously for at least ten years.

“Today, more than ever, we need to examine how to preserve housing for those who truly are the most vulnerable in a community. Now is the time for us to calculate more accurately the ability of a citizen to contribute to their housing,” said Tam Perry, associate professor with the Wayne State University School of Social Work. “Affordable housing is a centerpiece in one's stability. Preventing displacement is key to truly be an inclusive community. If one has to move, it is crucial to assess the multidimensional needs of those displaced.”

“Long-time residents of neighborhoods should not be forced out of the communities that they helped develop, maintain and grow over the years,” Chang said. “It is critical that we ensure our policies will help those that gave back to their neighborhoods every day for years are not priced out of their homes, and are able to age in peace and with dignity.”