Despite Detroit’s image of being under-populated with large amounts of vacant land and abandoned homes and buildings, rapid growth and revitalization has been spurred by an in- ux of people with higher incomes. This growth has resulted in a shortage of multi-unit apartment housing causing increased rental rates though the conversion of low income housing into market rate housing.
The conversion, or potential conversion, of apartment buildings serving low income senior citizens in Detroit into market-rate housing has created a human service crisis for seniors living in the Downtown and Midtown areas of Detroit. As is the case with most urban areas, Detroit has a high concentration of subsidized low income senior housing. There is insuf cient support at the local, state, or federal level to support the nancing of new housing for low income seniors in Detroit who may be displaced and will be compelled to relocate. There is a shortage of low income senior housing in Detroit and seniors incur waiting lists as the population of seniors steadily increases. Over 2,000 seniors in over a dozen apartment buildings are at risk of being displaced from their homes and communities over the next decade.
What is happening in Detroit, Michigan with subsidized low income senior housing is also of concern nationally to policy makers and practitioners. Federally subsidized housing programs speci cally designed for seniors with low incomes began in 1959 with the Section 202 program (Joint Center for Housing Studies of Harvard University, 2013). The Section 8 rental assistance program, with 15 to 40 year project-based Housing Assistance Payment (HAP) contracts followed in 1974 and was responsible for the construction of most of the privately owned, subsidized housing presently available for low- income seniors in the United States.
The elimination of this program has led to a decline in the housing built speci cally for seniors from 40% of the units in low income housing with project-based rent subsidies to 13% (Kochera, Redfoot & Citro, 2001). It is projected that within 10 years, all of the original project-based Section 8 HAP contracts will have expired and communities will need to have a plan in place for the well being of seniors who reside in these units. In Detroit alone, over 2,000 seniors are estimated to be at risk of being displaced.