Tag Archives: Detroit Housing Commission

reFACING DETROIT : A HOUSING NARRATIVE : PART 2

Paying Respect to our Detroit Elders: Housing Narrative – Part 2

[Part two in a series chronicling our experiences assisting the Detroit Housing Commission (DHC).  For further description, refer to our first housing narrative post.]

House No. 3: My car’s wipers intermittently clear our line of sight.  My colleague and I drive past two vacant homes, a vacant school, three vacant lots, and a vacant business.  Finally, we turn onto a block where most of the houses seem to be intact.  The rain is pouring down and we are unprepared.  Holding clip boards over our heads, we make a dash to the home’s covered porch.

We ring the doorbell.  “Who is it?” an elderly woman yells through a door that remains locked.  I answer that we are doing a survey for the Detroit Housing Commission.  “I don’t know anything about a survey” she answers.  I offer that she can call someone with the Housing Commission and she can confirm our presence with them.  The door cracks open.  She asks for ID.  I offer her a photoless ID as I also start to call my contact at the Housing Commission.  Handing the phone to her, she speaks to the person.  After a brief conversation, she re-opens the door and only allows me inside.  My colleague is left to stand in the rain.  I begin the survey.  The elderly woman silently follows me into every room. Continue reading

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reFACING DETROIT : A HOUSING NARRATIVE : PART 1

HOUSE NO. 1.  I step out of my car and glance at the address listed on my clip board.  I then compare that number to the faded house number adjacent to the front door.  It’s a match.  My partner and I glance at the neighborhood and quickly assess our surroundings.  We traverse the short front walk, step up the slightly deteriorating stoop, and ring the doorbell. It doesn’t work.  I tap my clipboard hard against the locked storm door.  I stand square with the front door, my Detroit Housing Commission badge daggling from my shirt pocket. Like standing before a metal detector at the airport, I allow a stranger to scrutinize my intensions.  I give ample time for them to complete their security check through the peephole.  As I stand there, my mind wanders.  What will I find on the other side of the door?

REHABILITATING DETROIT.  In 2009, the federal government passed the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.  It was enacted as an economic stimulus package and immediately pumped $12.7 billion towards the modernization of the nation’s public housing.   New leadership at the Detroit Housing Commission (DHC) has earmarked $8 million toward breathing new life into a scattered sites housing program that has proven national success.   Through this capital outlay, the DHC is continuing its mission to provide quality housing for all Detroiters.  Hamilton Anderson Associates is one of four teams of architects asked to take this journey of rehabilitation with the DHC.  Our specific task is to assess the physical condition of 80 homes, but as our work continues, we realize our assessments are also about restoring the human condition. Continue reading

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