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September 10, 1987 - Image 55

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 1987-09-10

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homeless seek refuge

The Michigan Daily, Thursday, September 10, 1987- Page 7,
in shelter

Ann Arbor, like most other city,
has a serious problem providing
shelter for the roughly estimated
450 homeless persons who call the
streets of Ann Arbor their home.
"The trends of Ann Arbor reflect
the trend nationwide," said Kathy
Zick, director of the Day Drop-In
Center, which accommodates the
homeless everyday from 9 a.m. to 5
p.m., but she said that no one
knows exactly how many homeless
there are in Ann Arbor.
The current Day Drop-In Center
on South Division St. will have to
relocate since the building the
houses the center will be torn down
to accommodate the expansion of
the Great Lakes Federal bank's
building on East Liberty St.
According to Zick, efforts to
tabulate or even estimate the
number of homeless have been
inadequate. The national figures
range from as high 2.5 million to
as low as 25,000.
Zick believes the number of Ann
Arbor homeless is higher than the
estimate because of the city's
proximity to psychiatric wards.
"About 15 to 25 percent of
mentally ill patients who are
released from surrounding psy-
chiatric hospitals flock to the city's
homeless shelters," John Strot-
kamp, supervisor of Community
Mental Health organization, said.
But he said the shelters are not
equipped to fulfill their needs.
"A lot of homeless get com-
mitted then released. Word gets out
that you can sign out of the
hospital and cruise to the shelter,"
he said. "It's a feeder system,"
According to Strotkamp the
influx of mentally ill homeless

leads to the overcrowding of area
shelters. "It's a concern because
there seems to be a constant trickle
of homeless folks with mental
illness into the shelters."
The majority of the the home-
less are not diagnosed as mentally
ill, although a high number have
emotional problems or are depen-
dent on drugs or alcohol.
They are transient people, often
using Ann Arbor as a resting place
before heading to Chicago or New
York. Others use the shelter as a
temporary refuge while looking for
a job or affordable housing.
"Last year more than 400 stayed
less than two weeks, so they just
used us as a stepping stone," said
In recent years, Zick said the
median age of Washtenaw County's
homeless population has become
significantly younger and younger.
From a sample group of 405
homeless people, 44 percent were
under 30 years of age. Zick
attributes this trend to rising
unemployment rates.
"There is increasing skill level
to get a job," she said. "It's much
harder to break into the market
Finding a job and affordable
housing in Ann Arbor is difficult
for the homeless, but because of the
University's "liberal leanings" the
homeless find a sense of security in
Ann Arbor, Strotkamp said. "The
sense is that you can hang out at
(the University). People won't beat
your head in," he said.
Some members of the Uni-
versity's student body have res-
Dan Halloran, assistant director
of University family housing, said
the 'U' Terrace leases expire July
31, and destruction is planned to

begin after that.
Halloran said about 58 graduate
students live in the 40 doomed
apartments. Although residents
have protested destruction of the
buildings since the spring of 1986,
Halloran said, "There's a certain
resignation" that the buildings will
be torn down, but the residents
"still aren't happy at all."
Gerald Huntley, an anthropology
graduate student and spokesman for
Terrace residents, feels betrayed that
the University will destroy housing
without replacing it at such a
critical time. Huntley added that the
residents who will be forced out of
their apartments will have to find
other housing in Ann Arbor,
thereby exacerbating the shortage.
Halloran said any displaced
residents have been offered
University housing in other 'U'
Terrace units or in family housing

on North campus.
The current housing crunch is
causing the annual off-campus
housing search - that usually
starts at the beginning of winter
term - to begin as early as
December. The situation will likely
be worsened with the 4,500
incoming first-year students this
fall, said Donald Swain, associate
director of admissions.
Last year, due to the large
number of first-year students,
eleven women slept in lounges in
Mary Markley hall and Stockwell
hall for four days, according to
Leroy Williams, director of
University housing information.
Rumsey said University housing
has reached its maximum capacity
in that any residence hall rooms
that could be converted into triples
have already been converted.

Daily rnoto by JOHN MUNSON
Two homeless women share breakfast outside St. Andrews Episcopal
~. Church on Division St. The church serves breakfast to homeless people
every morning.

Building boom sparks

city identity

Ann Arbor is not the small
college town it was five years ago
or even two years ago. New,
modern buildings have sprouted
where vacant lots and small gas
stations once stood, and more are
on the way.
Four cranes jutting into the
downtown skyline are constant
reminders of the city's latest
"building boom." Construction at
sites like the Great Lakes Federal
Savings Building, the Ashley St.
parking structure, and the nearly
completed One North Main office
building may lead people to believe
that Ann Arbor is rapidly becoming
a very large city.
"We're a city going through an
identity crisis right now," says
Gerry Clark, one of seven staff
planners in City Hall's Planning
Department. "Are we a small
town, or a big city?"
RECENT economic growth is
one of the main reasons for the
building boom. According to Clark,
the past two years of falling interest
and mortgage rates have made con -
structing new buildings more
appealing. Clark said most of the
construction right now probably
would have happened in the early
'80s if it hadn't been for the
economic recession.
Perhaps the most recognizable
new buildings are the parking
structures, built to ease the con -
tinual problems of parking. The
Ashley St. structure will be
completed next spring to ease the
Main St. parking problem, while
the recently completed Tally Hall
structure on East Liberty has
already helped the parking situation
for both area businesses and shop -
pers along that street.

The three most prominent new
structures in the downtown area are
One North Main, on the corner of
Main and Huron, 301 E. Liberty,
and Sloan Plaza, on E. Huron.
ONE NORTH Main and 301
E. Liberty, both leased by the
National Realty Company, will
serve similar functions. Both
buildings have parking space in the
basement and ground floor, retail
stores on the first two floors, and
office space in the remaining floors.
One North Main also has
condominium space on the tenth
and eleventh floors. Sloan Plaza is
mostly residential.
In addition to these buildings,
Great Lakes Federal Savings is
constructing an underground park -
ing structure and additional office
space. The banks' plans to expand
have stirred controversy in the
community because it would require
tearing down a homeless shelter.
Office spaces, such as in One
North Main, which should be
completed by early fall, are quickly
filling up. According to National
Realty leasing agent Roy Annette,
54 percent of One North Main is
"OBVIOUSLY, the quicker
we lease up the happier we are," he
said. "But we're really comfortable
with the way things are shaping up.
We're very satisfied."
But leasing can be a very
complex procedure, Clark said.
"There's a question of who to sell
to. You can either divide (the office
space) up into tiny little
psychiatrists' offices, or sell to one
big business." Annette said One
North Main and 301 E. Liberty
should go as "multi-tenant
buildings." Clark believes that
Sloan Plaza's 20,000 sq. ft. of

office space will probably go to one
large business.
Although the spaces are going
fast, many people think the city has
enough office space. Resources
gone into creating more office
buildings could be better used
elsewhere, they believe.
But Clark disagrees. "Business
needs room to grow, and we can't
just say, 'No, there's too much
(vacant office) space. You can't
build.' If a company has a contract
to build, then they can build."
WHILE businesses have taken
to Ann Arbor as a new boom town,
the recent construction has not gone
without protest. Many residents feel
that because of the recent stint of
construction Ann Arbor is losing
its character as a small, college
town. "It's getting way out of
hand," said LSA sophomore
Charles Manjarrez. "Enough is
To regulate the construction, the
previous city council and former
Mayor Ed Pierce appointed a twelve
member committee last summer to
work on a master plan to oversee
the growth in the downtown area.
The master plan will incorporate
community input into how the city
should look in the future.
The committee was formed in
response to the general uneasy
opinion toward the new con -
struction that started last year. "A
change of that magnitude is always
hard to get used to," Steering
Committee Consultant Connie
Dimon said. "People feelanxious."
The committee, called the
Downtown Plan Task Force
Steering Committee, is still at
work on a final recommendation
which is scheduled to come out in
the fall.

Daily Photo by JOHN MUNSON
Two cranes jut into the Ann Arbor skyline, a sign of the building boom that has swept the city in recent years.

The last master plan of the
downtown area growth was
formulated in 1975, and, said
Dimon, "We're trying to re -
articulate some values that still
hold true."
IN THE past year, the steering
committee has come up with seven
"values" city planners should
follow such as "diversity of use,"
"image and identity" - which
includes working to preserve
historic buildings - and "ped -
estrian organization."
Along with these values, eleven
"issues and objectives" have been
proposed for the future of
downtown. These include circu -
lation and transit, development
scale and character, attractive
entrances to the town, keeping the
downtown clean and secure and
In order to get as much public

input as possible, the committee
sent out mail-back surveys, spon -
sored walking tour workshops of
high development areas, and held a
series of interviews and public
PUBLIC opinion has already
been integral in planning the future
shape of Ann Arbor. According to
Dimon, unfavorable public opinion
halted the proposed construction of
a hotel-conference center on the site
of a parking lot on the corner of
First and Huron Streets.
Other proposed projects may
also stir controversy. Aside from
the homeless shelter, Great Lakes
Federal Savings' proposed expan -
sion will tear down a gas station on
the corner of Huron and Division
The controversies do not extend
only to future construction,
however. While everyone has a

different opinion of the new build
ings, 301 E. Liberty has been
criticized the most, according to
Clark. "301 is a total failure,"
Clark states. "It would have been
nice to have an advisory committee
before all this started. But humans
don't work that way." In his
opinion,' the current downtown
zoning revision is "long overdue."
In reference to One North Main,
Dimon points out that "the great
majority felt a building was
necessary, but people aren't abso -
lutely satisfied with the result - a
big box." The building replaced a
vacant lot. So where is Ann Arbor
going? Up, out or nowhere?
"There is some building going
on out by Briarwood and Plymouth
Rd., but the city is definitely
reaching an outer limit," says
Clark, adding that if Ann Arbor
goes anywhere, it will go up.

As mayor, Jernigan has a

Gerald Jernigan, Ann Arbor's new
Republican mayor, decorated his city hall office
with an American Flag, two chairs and a large
desk with nothing on it except a few loose
papers and an adding machine. The practical
decor of his office, partly due to the position's
parttime status, matches Jerigan's practical,
down-to-business style.

"We have a full time city administrator who
should run the city on the day-to-day basis. The
mayor and city council have to know what is
going on. But we don't actually have to get
into the departments and actually run them. We
need to know how to set policy in an articulate
manner," he said.
Fellow council members, such as Doris
Preston (D-Fifth Ward), describe Jernigan as

ractical style
the Republican caucus that a lot of Democrats
have been able to deal with, although
sometimes we just have to agree to disagree,"
Preston said.
Like his surroundings, Jernigan has an
uncluttered approach to being mayor and is,
confident that he can be an effective leader
despite party differences. "I came in with a
fairly outlined agenda of things I wanted to

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