Poll finds Ann Arbor voters in support of proposed affordable housing millage

77% of respondents would support proposed millage

ANN ARBOR, Mich. – A poll commissioned by the Partners for Affordable Housing, a coalition of nonprofit organizations and citizens, suggests that voters in Ann Arbor would support a proposed millage to fund more affordable housing.

Conducted by EPIC MRA, a Michigan-based survey research firm, voters were surveyed on their support for a potential millage to fund the development and maintenance of permanently affordable housing and social services for residents earning 0-60% of Area Median Income (AMI).

In Washtenaw County, the AMI of a household of four is $101,200 according to data prepared by the Washtenaw County Office of Community and Economic Development.

Results of the poll show that 77% of voters supported the proposed millage and would be willing to vote in support of a millage this November. The poll found that three out of four voters in every ward in the City of Ann Arbor expressed support, according to a release.

If approved, the millage would raise approximately $6.3 million per year for the next 20 years. It would help develop around 1,500 units of affordable housing for up to 3,700 people.

The millage would increase homeowner taxes by $125 per year for every $250,000 in market value and $125,000 in taxable value.

The release said that 53% of those surveyed deemed providing permanent affordable housing and related support services as “absolutely essential.” The poll found families with children, households earning $55,000 to $75,000 annually and voters ages 18-34 were most likely to consider affordable housing and related services “absolutely essential.”

As it related to homelessness, 90% of those surveyed indicated that “adopting local programs to provide long-term solutions to provide permanent affordable housing and related support services,” was important.

Aside from the issues of COVID-19 and racial equality, 24% of voters were most concerned with the “availability of affordable housing”, 20% were concerned with quality improvement in schools, and 12% were concerned with protecting the environment around Ann Arbor.

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“Citizens and government leaders at both the City and County level have known about the lack of affordable housing in our community for years now,” said Ian Robinson, president of the Huron Valley Area Labor Federation and treasurer of Partners for Affordable Housing in the release.

“This is a growing problem that is an urgent priority for many working people. This poll demonstrates the community’s willingness to support a millage to provide housing for working people and help those who struggle with homelessness in Ann Arbor. HVALF delegates voted unanimously to endorse this millage campaign and to encourage members of our local unions to ask their City Council members to put it on the ballot so they can vote for it.”

The proposed millage is supported by a recommendation from a 2015 analysis by the Washtenaw County OCED that found an additional 2,797 affordable non-student rental units were needed by 2035.

In its release, Partners for Affordable Housing pointed to a decline in affordable housing around Washtenaw County as private developers have converted properties away from affordable housing. The coalition also noted a 2019 feasibility analysis requested by Ann Arbor City Council which determined that nine underutilized City-owned properties could be used for the development of 1,400 to 1,600 new units of affordable housing.

Ann Arbor City Council members Chip Smith and Elizabeth Nelson plan to present a resolution to the Ann Arbor City Council for a November 2020 ballot proposal seeking voter approval for the millage.

The poll was funded by a grant given by the Ann Arbor Area Community Foundation to the Washtenaw Housing Alliance.

Partners of Affordable Housing is a coalition of individuals and nonprofit organizations interested in a millage to support affordable housing so as to help the city achieve affordable housing goals.

Read the full release here or visit the Partners of Affordable Housing website.

About the Author:

Sarah has worked for WDIV since June 2018. She covers community events, good eats and small businesses in Ann Arbor and has a Master's degree in Applied Linguistics from Grand Valley State University.