Hard Times, Big Plans
Ann Arbor Housing Commission board chair Marta Manildi says they had a pretty good year last year: "We brought in a lot of grants, we received a lot of stimulus money, and we increased our reserves." The commission, which oversees 360 city-owned low-income apartments, replaced three-quarters of its furnaces and many of its boilers, roofs, and windows, and added security cameras in some locations.
This year will be a different story. With less revenue from the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development, the commission is cutting its budget 10 percent, to $13.5 million. Its deficit is projected to increase from $26,000 to $336,000. And last July, executive director Marge Novak announced that she was leaving after just a year on the job.
"We were very sorry to see her go," says Manildi. "She was an extraordinarily capable leader." The departure also was a test of the rejuvenated commission: the last time it had to hire a director, it moved so slowly that city council dismissed its members and appointed new ones.
This time, it took the commission only four months to choose Jennifer Hall as its new director. "I've done affordable housing all my career," says Hall, most recently as housing manager for the combined city-county community development office. "Every job I've had, every board I've been on--it all relates to public housing."