Written by Tim Thorland and Olga Stella
The following is an open letter to the residents of the Hubbard Farms neighborhood in Southwest Detroit. It was distributed by Southwest Housing Solutions' board and director three hours after Inside Southwest Detroit published an op-ed piece about community development and community engagement in Southwest Detroit. Although the timing of the distribution of both pieces were unrelated, it is important to highlight their relationship in full and fair presentation of available information regarding this issue.
This is to inform you that Southwest Housing Solutions (SWHS) has decided not to move forward with the development of the Broderick Apartments/Murray Townhomes project.
The decision was made following open and robust discussions with Board, residents and staff about the merits of the project, as well as meetings where residents shared concerns about and objections to it. This was a difficult choice for many, because the Broderick/Murray project aligned with a core mission of Southwest Housing Solutions: To provide quality affordable housing to families and individuals in need.
The organization’s decision ultimately boiled down to SWHS’ desire to develop a long lasting partnership with residents based on mutual interests and transparency. This also serves to announce that SWHS is taking the following steps to address public safety issues and concerns in our buildings and throughout the community:
-SWHS is putting resident property managers into all of its southwest Detroit buildings with more than 10 units.
-The two buildings in Hubbard Farms that have raised the most concerns will have “enhanced” property managers in place by the end of the year.
-Starting in November, the organization will hold regular SWHS tenant group meetings to address quality of life issues, including safety.
-A manager-level SWHS staff representative will participate on the Hubbard Farms Safety Committee. This staff person will contribute to the work of the committee as well as regularly report on issues and progress in our buildings.
-SWHS will participate with residents in planning future development and quality of life improvements in the neighborhood.
SWHS has already revamped and increased the size of its property management team to perform better in southwest Detroit. The team has been tasked with:
-Focusing on quality of tenancy rather than quantity
-Weeding out problem tenants (in our southwest Detroit apartments, over the past 18 months SWHS has evicted or forced out under threat of eviction 20 separate tenants for illegal behaviors.)
-Vigorously marketing SWHS residences within southwest Detroit (one sign of success is that 85% of the tenants in our most recent project in the neighborhood, the Scotten Park Townhomes, are from southwest Detroit)
In the immediate future, SWHS will contact the residents who have been taking a lead role in communicating community concerns so that a mutual agenda can be developed that will benefit all residents of Hubbard Farms.
Tim Thorland, Executive Director
Olga Stella, President