Lansing city council approves PILOT affordable housing

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LANSING, MI– Members of Lansing City Council were split among those in favor and those against approving PILOTs being proposed to the city. 

PILOT, or payment in lieu of taxes, would jumpstart the development of vacant properties or properties in need of repair, into affordable housing for the underprivileged in the community. There were three PILOTs proposed to the council: multi-family lofts and senior lofts on Cedar Street, and a project titled ‘Hillsdale Place’ on West Hillsdale Street. 

Fourth Ward Councilmember Brian T. Jackson spoke in support. 

 “…this affordable housing…creates a certain number of safe units…and is just going to provide capacity,” Jackson said.

Not every member of the board agreed with Jackson’s stance.  The concern was that although the city would receive an incentive for them, there are still services that need to be rendered which will cost the city. 

“We do not bring in the revenues to provide services to these individuals in these spaces the way that they deserve to be serviced,” said President Adam Hussain, who spoke against the proposal. 

Hussain had other issues with the proposed PILOTs.  Hussain described the proposed locations for the PILOTs as ‘inappropriate’, having spent his own time in the areas and witnessing firsthand the living conditions.  

“One of these PILOTs that is in front of us, the location makes vulnerable people more vulnerable, and that is one of the most out-of-touch things that we can possibly do…” Hussain said. 

At-Large council member Peter Spafadore voices reasons he agrees with PILOT passing.

Coming to Jackson’s defense in agreement was at-large council member Peter Spafadore. 

 “I see in front of us several options to provide better, safer housing for people at low and moderate-income levels,” he said. 

Spafadore expressed that although he acknowledges and wishes that the city had more resources, he supports all three of the PILOTs because he feels that is the one option they have to do for those in need of safe housing.  

Ultimately, the board voted in favor of passing two out of the three ordinances which will allow developers to begin turning those vacant properties into a senior-living housing option, as well as the multi-family housing option.  The third PILOT, which was not passed, was an additional housing option for families.  

Lansing residents participate in public comments.

Local residents in attendance at the meeting had the chance to voice their opinions on the proposals, and they took advantage of that opportunity.

Some residents believe the city does not care or does not take action to assist those in need of housing and instead jumps at any opportunity set in front of them.  This makes some citizens of Lansing feel that the board does not see the value in the city, or want better for it.  

Claretta Freeman stepped forward to voice her concerns about how the board is handling problems within the city.  She started by commending the board for voting to only pass two of the three PILOTs, but wished that none of them had been passed.  

“Thank you for listening to us, because we keep coming here and telling you about the problems of these developers…and how they don’t upkeep it (housing) and how it takes away tax money from us,” Freeman said.

“Lansing has worth, and we don’t have to believe in scarcity,” Freeman said, closing out her statement to the board.  

Council makes the final decision on PILOTs.

Another citizen, Jodi Washington, said her heart sank when she heard the result of the vote.

“I certainly hope that those who voted yes are the first to put your mother in that development,” Washington said, voicing how she feels ‘sickened’ by the board’s recent decision.  

As a result of the vote, the city will be moving forward with developing the housing units in the coming months.  More information on the development is available at PILOT Information for Developers | Lansing, MI – Official Website.

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