Michigan City Gives Go Ahead for Senior Housing

Michigan has a very long and unfortunately a very brutal reputation of its population falling on hard times. Throughout what many consider the "Golden Years" of manufacturing, during the 1950s and 60s, Michigan was home to Detroit, Motor City, along with dozens of other of towns and cities that focused on automobile manufacturing, propelling the entire state to the epitome of the middle-class in American. After manufacturing all but dried up, however, most of Michigan has been on really hard times, with more and more residents being unable to afford basics like housing and food. The city of Muskegon is hoping to change that, now that senior affordable housing has been green-lit.

The project is headed up by Samaratis, a nonprofit in the area. A lot of such housing projects have been proposed, but one of the biggest issues in the area has always been finding land on which to place them. It's much harder to accomplish in rural areas, although the land is available outside of the city. Of course, it would be a lot harder for seniors to get around if they were outside of the city, so that's always a consideration.

Though a larger consideration is just how much more it costs to have infrastructure built up in rural areas. It's very impractical to run water lines all the way to vacant areas, and to run sewer lines back into the local municipality's system, and so rural areas would require their own sort of water supply and their own septic system. This is something that would cost tens of millions of dollars to accomplish, to tie these communities into the existing infrastructure, and that's money that few can afford to spend.

There's also the consideration of phone service, Internet and especially power. Having to run new poles and lines and underground cables, potentially for miles, is just too big a task and costs far too much money to consider adopting rural land for these sorts of projects.

Instead, the idea is to find land that's already in the city, where it's very simple to tie in the sewer, water and power. Though this is where most states run into snags. Where do you find land? It's hard to re-purpose a closed factory into senior housing. The initial project would have to be demolished. So, again, one runs into a question of money. Samaratis and the city go around this by finding a large vacant parking lot in the middle of downtown Muskegon, which is an ideal location for senior housing. It's easy to tie in the water, sewer and electric, along with the Internet, so the job is predicted to go fairly smoothly and not cost a whole lot.

The Mayor of the city, and other politicians in the area, are excited and say that this is just the first project proposed in an overall revitalization of the downtown city area. To date, it's unclear how many seniors this project will house, or how much it will cost, but the emphasis is on creating a community of cost-controlled housing for the area's senior population.

The Shuffling Deck of Senior Housing

Senior housing is usually low on a city's list of priorities. When it comes to affordable housing, the first item on every city's list in America always seems to be low-income housing for the African American community, followed closely behind by Latino communities, and then finally other marginalized communities like the LGBT community, whose projects typically include shelters and clinics and not actual housing. For everyone else, their card is rarely ever shuffled close enough to the top of the deck to matter. In this instance, Muskegon decided to place an emphasis on their senior community, since there is a growing number of seniors who are self sufficient and not in homes, yet still have trouble holding down regular homes due to fixed incomes.

As seniors age further and pass away or move off into nursing homes, these units again become vacant and so they're able to be turned around and continually aimed at the senior community.

To date, there's no set time frame on when the project will be complete. With more COVID lock downs expected to pop up in the coming months, this project could end up being put off by years. Hopefully for seniors in the area, this project will take some precedence and will be built sooner rather than later. Though only time will tell.

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