By Meghan Christian
State aid enabling a first phase of relocation of the often-troubled Atherton East housing complex was announced March 2 by Mayor Karen Weaver.
The Michigan State Housing Development Authority (MSHDA) has approved a nine percent housing tax credit, translating to $1.5 million, for the relocation of the complex, currently located at 3123 Chambers St.
Weaver announced the windfall, alongside other city and state officials, at a press conference.
The relocation project is Phase I of Clark Commons, a four-phase project aiming to address development needs on Flint’s North End.
This first phase is expected to bring 62 units of mixed-income housing to the corner of William and North Saginaw streets, 39 of which will be for current Atherton East residents, according to Suzanne Wilcox, interim director of planning and development.
Eventually, all 192 units of Atherton East are scheduled to be replaced, officials said.
“It’s much more of a mixed-income housing development, so the units are beautiful…The same unit will exist for an affordable unit as well as a market unit,” Wilcox said, adding that the project will help transform Flint, especially the North Saginaw Street area.
Officials from the City of Flint, in partnership with the Flint Housing Commission, still hope to secure funding for the other phases of the project. Those efforts include a Choice Implementation Grant application submitted last year to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) for $30 million.
HUD’s Choice Neighborhood program aims to help struggling neighborhoods through focusing on not only housing, but on other areas as well, Wilcox stated. Atherton East fits the criteria, long being confronted with recurring crime problems.
According to Wilcox, the City expects to hear on the status of the application within the next few months, but officials still plan to continue with Phase I regardless of the State’s decision.
“As we move forward with that, I think the important thing for the community to really understand is that no matter whether we get that grant or not, which will be transformational I think, for the City of Flint, Phase I is happening,” Wilcox said.
A specific project start date has not been set, but work is expected to begin in the next six to 12 months, according to Wilcox.
Councilwoman Jerri Winfrey-Carter, representing the Fifth Ward where the project is located, said she is hopeful the relocation of Atherton East will be good for her ward in the long run.
“I’m excited,” Winfrey Carter said. “I think we really need to build community and this is the way to do it.”
EVM Managing Editor Meghan Christian can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.