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June 17, 1978 - Image 14

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Text
Publication:
Michigan Daily, 1978-06-17

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Page 14-Saturday, June 17, 1978-The Michigan Daily

(Conti
of the Bald
funds were
because, ac
funds had be
tain cases im
administrati
SINCE TI
elderly hour
disaster with
money toi
residents, the
an understan
mingham wa
there was mo
It was abi
were finally
in 1976, that
statements
receive mone
projects if the
their city of
income hous
mingham, b
taken by MSI
the assessed
low-income
elderly peopl
project was
dwellers, tha
ingham woul
units of low-i
which was la
frontations1
missioners a
"We went for
more," said
MSHDA.
IN APRILc
st time firml
project was k
up with low-i
Dorothy Car

Birmingham locks
nued from Page 9)
mayor by the commission in 1977, seen the disastrou
win House project, HUD called a public meeting to discuss with gloomy firetraps th
held up for long months the community what the ramifications ted, and the crime a;
cording to Conrad, HUD of the MSHDA demands were. "I went borhoods that camei
en mismanaged and in cer- to Lansing, and then the MSHDA people There were the poorl
pounded during the Nixon came down here and looked around. I infested homes built1
on. showed them we didn't have any large housing program ths
tracts of land where we could put 1 attention to Detroit
HE construction of the anything," explained Conrad. there were the con
sing could have been a "They were thinking of one project dope dens known as t
out the guarantee of HUD which we rejected right away - even if built in Taylor in the'
bring in lower-income we had a parcel of land," she added. congestion and the
e project was shelved with The commission instead opted to borhood schools that
ding from HUD that Bir- renovate dilapidated houses scattered and there was the f
s on the top of the list when throughout the city to use as low- that property rates
ney to be released, income housing. "I would say that those because the people in
out the time HUD funds commissioners who supported family too busy bending o
released to Birmingham, housing at all felt that a project was not help somebody else.
MSHDA began making in the best interest of anybody - AND, MAYBE the
that cities would only primarily not the tenants. American racism.
y for their elderly housing "You house them all together, and speech in front of al
y kept up some set ratio in then you drive people through town and Voters group, one of t
elderly housing to low- say 'that's our low-income housing' - ran against the three
ing for families. In Bir- lots of communities do that," Conrad the voting block in P
ased on housing surveys explained. favored housing) sai
HDA of the whole county, ALL OF A sudden, water began tion of this entire pl
ratio was to be one unit of cascading over the dam. The voters of generate a total soc
housing financed for the sleepy community were being mix within the same1
e. And since the downtown called to order, and the bell was ringing within the same livi
blueprinted to house 152 ever louder as the days went on. It was mix never existedi
1 meant the city of Birm- time to fight, for the very meaning of mankind, and is biolo
d have to come up with 76 Birmingham - the undeniably plain The campaigningp
ncome housing - a figure and simple fact that Birmingham was that, William York
ter whittled down in con- not for everyone - had been dragged biggest vote-getter in
between the city com- into doubt, by a group of "bastards York later was to sta
nd MSHDA to 50 units. from Washington" and "people here flustered by his fir
50, but we could have used with a guilty conscience," as the mayor paign, and had meal
a representative from expressed. was "sociologically w
Indeed, they were terrified. A com- Things moved ve
of 1977, MSHDA for the fir- munity had been constructed, over that. About four or
y stated that the Baldwin many years, and they were not about to formed to combat the
illed, until the city came let it fall apart now. They had seen what the pro-housing con
income housing. In May, happened when the government forced groups, which accor
nrad, who was elected subsidized housing on people, they had missioner had been m

the door

s results - the
at were construc-
nd decaying neigh-
in with the tenants.
y-constructed, rat-
under the old HUD
at brought national
in the 60's, and
istantly vandalized
the Dover complex
70's. There was the
decay of neigh-
was sure to follow,
frustrating feeling
would drop, all
n Washington were
ver backwards to
re was a touch of
In a campaign
League of Women
he candidates who
commissioners on
May (all of whom
d "The overall ac-
an is to create or
cial and economic
housing structure,
ing space. Such a
in the history of
gically wrong."
politician who said
was to be the
i the May election.
te that he had bee
st political cam-
int to say the mix
wrong." -
ry quickly after
five groups were
housing plans and
mmissioners. The
ding to one com-
bade of roughly the

newspaper & The Advertising Council
We're
counting
Red Cross.
The Good Neighbor.

same people and were even listed as
being a mere handful of people on man-
datory records filed with the county,
handed over a mimeographed group of
petitions at a November 28 commission
meeting and demanded a recall vote of-
Mayor Conrad and commissioners Ann
Dropiewski and Patricia Watt. In a
May election, they were recalled.
AFTER THE October notification by
MSHDA that the project was on again,
the public response forced the city to
put the issue of the purchase of the 55
units on the April ballot with city elec-
tions. The issue of the purchase of low-
income housing was split into two ballot
proposals. The first proposal asked
whether or not the city should purchase
the Baldwin project themselves, thus
taking out the MSHDA stipulation that
lower-income housing be provided. This
proposal would cost the city a sum of
not more than $6,000,000. The second
proposal asked Birmingham voters if
they wished to let the state pay for
Baldwin and also bring in the sub-
sidized lower-income housing. In the A-
pril election, proposal two was defeated
4,564 to 1,772, and the first proposal was
voted down by an even larger margin,
5,900 to 615.
Also in that election, incumbent city
commissioners Herbert Ring, Samuel
Staples and Arthur Underwood lost
their bids for re-election because of
their pro-housing stance.
MAYOR KELLEY is still elated with
the victory. "I say this is the best way
to choose to live - by the majority of
the people. You may not have
everybody an expert, but that's the
system. You go to the ballot and you
vote what you honestly and sincerely
feel. If you've been misinformed, or if
you're uninformed, that's still im-
material,.That's the system of majority
rule. That's democracy," he said.
"saylet's take care of the need,"

explained the mayor. "And no need
other than senior housing exists in Bir
mingham. That's not being rich-bitch,
that's not being smart-ass, those are
absolute facts. They just do not exist in
Birmingham ... why can't we rebuild
our country, why can't we put houses
back where they belong?"
"They (the city of Pontiac) have got
crime-ridden streets, they've got
homeless people, they've got hungry
people. You can't walk down the streets
of the city of Pontiac at 11:00 at night
without getting mugged, but you can do
it here. And we don't owe any money.
So the sons of bitches want us to get in
the same position they're in. It just
doesn't make sense," Kelley explained.
"They say I'm trying to keep people
out - but we're not an expanding
city . . . We're totally encircled. We're
not a Troy or a Westland or a Novi with
acres and acres of land to be
developed."
Statistics, however, prove the mayor
wrong. The 1970 census, for instance,
show there to be 1144 families in Bir-
mingham with incomes of less than
$10,000 annually, many of whom would
qualify for rent subsidies and low-
income housing.
According to a housing survey con-
ducted by MSHDA, there are roughly
75-80 families who would qualify as
low-income families in the city.
IN 1967, the year when riots in
Detroit, Newark and Cleveland
displayed a nation seething with racial
unrest, a special commission was ap-
pointed by President Johnson to probe
the roots of the rising militancy, and
explore the vacuum of race relations.
Headed up by former Illinois Governor
Otto Kerner, the report warned that if
the present social trends continue,
there would be "the permanent
establishment of two societies: one
predominantly white and located in the
suburbs, in smaller cities, and in
outlying areas, and one largely Negro
located in central cities."
The Kerner commission pointed out
the need for low-income housing scat-
tered throughout the community, and
not dumped in one spot of town. They
stressed the need for non-Negro areas
to accept low-income housing, and rent
supplement payments. "What white
Americans have never fully under-
stood," the commission wrote, "but
what the Negro can never fully forget is
that white society is deeply implicated
in the ghetto. White institutions created
it, white institutions maintain it, and
white society condones it. "The Kerner
report stated that in 1968, the same year
open-housing was greeted in Bir-
mingham.
What is happening in Birmingham is
not an isolated case. In Southfield and
Livonia, low-income housing has
received a cold shoulder from the
community. There is an endless, win-
ner-less conflict being acted out: the
proud, seective suburbanite against
the person with the lower hand, the
disadvantaged person.
Perhaps the issue comes down to
money, and suburbs who are able to
refuse state and federal money doing so
and thus effectively capping low-
income housing efforts. If this is the
case, then Birmingham has perhaps an
enviable position - they have a mayor
who boasts that the city could build five
projects like Baldwin House whenever
they want to, without federal funds and
restrictions, and who laughs at the
thought of losing federal block grants.

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