Rendering of the current design for 'The Grand on University' development at 422 S. University Street. (Courtesy of Communities First, Inc.)

Flint, MI—A new affordable housing development is coming to Carriage Town following the city council’s vote of approval Monday night.

Communities First will be developing apartments at a vacant property at the corner of Grand Traverse and W. University Ave. The development will have 48 units, 43 of which will be designated as affordable housing units. 

Seventeen of the units will be designated as “permanent supportive housing” units, with ten units “reserved for homeless and remaining units reserved for individuals and families who are special needs populations.” Rents will be set at a percentage of the resident’s income.

To develop these apartments, Communities First requested a PILOT (payment in lieu of taxes) agreement, under which they would pay 4% of the completed property’s rental revenue. 

At the Oct. 11 council meeting, residents who spoke during the public hearing were divided in their support for the proposed development.

Those against the project spoke about their desire to have more homeowners in the city rather than renters, preserving the historic nature of Carriage Town, and expressed concern with the PILOT aspect of the development. 

“I have been here 30 years. I’ve seen what low income looks like. I didn’t like it, and myself and a group of neighbors did something to change it,” said speaker Paul Herring. “And we made our neighborhood great. And this is our reward.”

But others strongly welcomed the development.

Emily Doerr, a seventh-ward resident, spoke about the need for housing for Flint’s workforce. 

“We have to grow our economy. We have to look at our businesses that want to hire people and know that those businesses want their workers to be able to live in the community,” she said. “These are people that will pay income taxes, that will have water bills that they pay, local businesses that they’ll patronize.”

The council voted 6-2 to approve the PILOT project, which is in the fifth ward.

Fifth ward Councilwoman Jerri Winfrey-Carter was initially not in support of the development but changed her mind over the last month of council meetings. 

“The reality of it is, Michigan has a serious lack of affordable housing, and the crisis could get worse soon,” she said. “So this is my stance. Communities First can build on that property regardless of whether or not they get this PILOT. Now, would I want them to build a market-rate apartment building and exclude individuals from being able to live in that apartment building based on their income levels? Because market-rate apartments are very expensive. Now, I got to look out for others.”

Amy Diaz is a journalist hailing from St. Petersburg, FL. She has written for multiple local newspapers in her hometown before becoming a full-time reporter for Flint Beat. When she’s not writing you...