Housing Task Force
Act 137 Plan Nears Completion
Housing Task Force Co-Chair Lori O'Malley has been working with Wayne County Chief Clerk Andrew Seder to complete the Act 137 Plan, which calls for completion of an Updated Housing Assessment. Task Force members and others in the community will be asked to assist in providing any requested information needed for the study.
O'Malley laid out what Wayne County hopes to get from the study, including the number of housing units that need to be developed to meet current and future needs of the county to aid in stabilizing housing prices and ensuring appropriate housing for all. The goal of the study would be to identify housing needs at each level of the Average Median Income.
Ultimately from the study, housing officials would acquire a strategic plan that outlines how to best accomplish this goal including funding strategies, This plan would provide the data-driven information that is needed to access grant funding.
The last Housing Assessment was completed in 2004, and the data and recommendations are out of date. It also does not take into account how the current pandemic has affected the housing market in Wayne County.
New Recording Fee Creates Fund for Affordable Housing
The Wayne Tomorrow! Housing Task Force identified the adoption of an Act 137 County Affordable Housing Fund as a priority from the beginning.
The Wayne County Commissioners, with the support of Register of Wills and Recorder of Deeds Deborah Bates, adopted an ordinance in August of 2020 authorizing the Register & Recorders office to collect and additional $13 on each filing to support affordable housing. The new fee went into effect on Oct. 1, 2020. The additional fee is paid each time a deed or mortgage is recorded, and it brings the total base cost of filing to $71.75.
Housing Task Force Co-Chair and Deputy Human Services Administrator Lori O’Malley said the majority of the generated funds can be used for projects and programs that create quality and affordable housing. They can be applied as a local match for grants, fill in gaps in other funding streams, and help provide case management services. A small amount of the fees can be retained for administration of the program.
“Just having the match can open more avenues,” O’Malley said, noting efforts to improve owner-occupied properties are often thwarted by other issues such as mold or asbestos remediation.
Task Force to Tackle Housing Options in Wayne County
A focus group of newly arrived residents indicated one of the main barriers they face is locating appropriate housing. Some new residents coming to the area for work or lifestyle changes are not interested in buying property immediately. They prefer to settle in to the area, then determine where they might want to plant roots. This group tends to prefer the downtown areas that provide quick access to culture, food and recreation.
Social Service Agency workers have also expressed concern about housing, especially available inventory. They note many landlords with potential units don't understand the process, rules/regulations and inspections associated with subsidized housing program. Some municipalities with zoning restriction may not understand the needs of the housing industry.
The Action Committee suggested several topics/goals:
- Determine how Wayne County can create and maintain affordable and appropriate housing for its citizens;
- Find ways to spark new ideas for reusing existing spaces;
- Develop, identify and create an inventory of housing opportunities in the county;
- Identify the existing barriers to home ownership;
- Enumerate the housing needs across all ages and demographics all across the county;
- Address the impact of homelessness or "couch surfing" on education and youth workforce development.