Wayne State College Democrats hosted a Midtown Housing Affordability town hall on Oct. 8 at the Student Center ballroom and discussed the increasing housing payments for students and Detroit residents.
Sasha LaPonsa, president of WSU College Democrats, said she hopes to get a housing coalition started for Detroit residents and WSU students.
“Students are being priced out of apartments off-campus, and it’s difficult for students to get places to live on campus,” she said. “It creates this weird cycle of students not being able to live off-campus and for students who can’t get a space off-campus to have to live on campus.”
LaPonsa said the housing coalition would find a way to make housing cheaper for everyone.
She said WSU housing is becoming more expensive and options are limited for students since the demolition of Helen L. DeRoy Apartments and renovations to Chatsworth Tower Apartments have caused the apartments to close.
Sen. Stephanie Chang said her office is working on a bill that would repeal a law in Michigan, which prohibits local government to regulate rent.
She said housing isn’t just a Detroit issue but is a state-wide issue that cities such as Traverse City and Grand Rapids are dealing with.
Audience members expressed their concerns about being able to find off-campus housing that is still affordable and close in proximity to campus.
Kristina Curtiss, a senior and public affairs student, said despite her rent being on the low side for Detroit, the building is not well maintained.
“Wayne State police patrols the area and arrests people in the alley, there was a party in my building and someone’s barf was there for four days,” she said. “There’s a sinkhole on my street too."
LaPonsa said there was an instance where her friend had to get a roof replacement at her studio apartment. However, it took until the roof was about to collapse for the building management to look into fixing it.
Rep. Rashida Tlaib said people should use her office and other government officials’ offices to elevate their concerns about housing.
“A lot of these management companies get away with a lot because nobody tells on them because they (tenants) aren’t sure who to go about it,” Tlaib said. “I would encourage all of you to tweet at us, email us, it’s important because as soon as that happens I’m like on it. I screenshot it, I send it to my caseworkers, and I say ‘find out about this.’”
Sen. Chang will host a Detroit Housing Summit on Oct. 26 where workshops on affordable housing, foreclosure prevention and community land trusts will be available for attendees.
For more information on the housing summit, visit: https://www.detroitjustice.org/events/detroithousingsummit19.
Susana is the managing editor of The South End. She can be reached at email@example.com.