"HUD is shrinking so fast it's scary," says Hall, executive director of the Ann Arbor Housing Commission. After the worst recession since the Great Depression, the funding the commission receives from the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development has fallen by nearly a quarter in the last decade, from $572,509 to $440,778.
The commission currently manages eighteen sites with 355 total units--up by just twelve units in thirty years. "Most of our stock was built in the late sixties and early seventies," says commission board president Ron Woods, "and it's in significant need of repair, rehabilitation, and revitalization."
To say the least: like most public housing of its time, the local housing stock was built as cheaply as possible. "Developers we hired as consultants told us properties we thought we could rehab we should demolish," says Hall. "The worst example is North Maple [Estates, built in 1969]. The highest point of the site is a basketball court, and the lowest is the eight houses, so there's constant basement flooding from runoff during rainstorms.
"Then there's the Broadway Terrace," continues Hall. "It was built in 1956 and has no insulation, and the plumbing is against the walls so there're constant leaks and freezing in the winter. And there's a building at the back of the site that's feet away from the edge of a cliff."