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September 06, 1990 - Image 45

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 1990-09-06

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The Michigan Daily/New Student Edition - Thursday, September 6, 1990 - Page 3


homeless face

obstacles to survival
Estimates put number on the street at 1,500

Angell Hall AMY FELDMAN/Daily
Angell Hall stands as one of the landmarks of not only the University, but also of the city of Ann Arbor. Ann Arbor
was founded in 1824, and in 1837 it was chosen as the location of the University of Michigan.
A ore than 165 years

by'Ian Hoffman
Daily NSE Editor
Which came first the city or the
In many people's minds the city
of Ann Arbor and the University of
Michigan are synonymous with one
another, and for good reason. Like a
pair of siblings, the two institu-
tions grew up together, sharing a
similar history.
In 1824 John Allen and Elisha
Rumsey, a pair of entrepreneurs
looking to turn a profit by buying
low-priced land ($1.25/acre) from
the federal government and reselling
to settlers at significantly higher
costs, founded Ann Arbor
The name Allen and Rumsey
chose for their town reflected the
well-forested land on which it
stood, and honored the given name
their wives' shared.
Ann Arbor grew rapidly from
the 1820s through the mid 1830s,
but its future was forever altered in
1837 when the University of
Michigan's Board of Regents chose
Ann Arbor as the site of Michi-
gan's first state University.
More than luck located the Uni-
versity in Ann Arbor. In a shrewd
business move, the Ann Arbor
Land Company (AALC) offered the
University's Board of Regents a free
40 acre plot of land to establish the
University on. The gift swayed the
regents' decision.
The AALC also offered to name
the town's main street State Street
in order to lure the state govern-
ment to locate the undetermined site
of the Michigan state capital in
Ann Arbor. That ploy, however,
was unsuccessful.
Few years passed before the Uni-
versity became a important factor in
the development of Ann Arbor. In
1856 the students and faculty com-
prised only ten percent of the city's
population, but by 1881, the Uni-
versity's population grew to ac-
count for full 35 percent of Ann{
Arbor residents.
When the University's first pres-
ident, Henry Tappan, converted
University dormitories into class-

rooms and laboratories in 1858 he
created a new industry in Ann Ar-
bor. Boarding houses quickly
sprung up all over town.
Being home to the University
was not without problems for Ann
Arbor, however. Crimes of arson
and robbery were commonly re-
ported. In 1856, students celebrat-
ing the completion of their first
year of classes, burned the city's
new plank sidewalks.
World War I and the nationalism
that prevailed throughout the U.S.
brought turmoil and confusion to
Ann Arbor. The town's large Ger-
man population was often suspected
by non-Germans of being loyal to
Germany. German-Americans were
often verbally and physically ha-
German was discontinued as a
course in Ann Arbor's junior high
and all high school students were
asked to sign an oath of allegiance
to the United States. At the Univer-
sity, German prof. Karl Eggert was
fired for his pro-Germany political
World War II brought with it
more changes for Ann Arbor. In re-
sponse to the 1941 bombing of
Pearl Harbor, Willow Run bomber
plant was constructed on the out-
skirts of Ann Arbor to manufacture
military airplanes. Willow Run be-
came the most productive bomber
plant in the U.S. during the War
and, for a time, manufactured more
than one plane per hour.
In the 1960s a combination of
events thrust Ann Arbor into the
forefront of the nation's concise-
One chilly October evening, in
the midst of a national campaign
tour, presidential candidate John F.
Kennedy delivered a speech in
which he described in sketchy de-
tails of a plan to allow recently
graduated college students to per-
form public service projects in un-
der-developed countries.
Kennedy's speech was the blue
print for today's Peace Corps. t
As the '60s progressed, Ann Ar-
bor and the University became in-s

tellectual focal points for radical
ideas and actions proposed during
the decade.
Students for a Democratic Soci-
ety (SDS) formed, and became one
of the most active of the organiza-
tions to fight for societal change
during the '60s. One of SDS's
founding members - University
student Tom Hayden - later mar-
ried and divorced Jane Fonda, and
today serves in California's state
Continuing the tradition of Ann
Arbor liberalism established in the
'60s, the 1972 Ann Arbor City
Council passed an ordinance setting
the fine for possession of marijuana
at $5.
Today, approximately 35 percent
of Ann Arbor's 100,000 residents
are University students. Ann Arbor
still suffers from student committed
crimes - case in point, 1989's de-
struction of South U following
Michigan's NCAA basketball
championship victory - and
racism, and Willow Run bomber
plant, while it no longer produces
airplanes, remains standing.
Through the years the Univer-
sity has sent more students to the
Peace Corps than all but two other
schools, and two Michigan gradu-
ates have headed the organization. A
plaque on the steps of the Michigan
Union commemorates Kennedy's
famous speech.
Ann Arbor still enjoys the repu-
tation of a liberal community, and
until last spring's elections, the $5
marijuana fine was part of the city's
However, in the same elections
Ann Arbor was declared a zone of
Reproductive Freedom by voters,
continuing the city's liberal tradi-
While the small prairie town
may have come first, today the city
of Ann Arbor and the University of
Michigan stand inseparable.
Two shows tht originate from
Community Access are B-side and
MS TV. Both programs are entirely
student produced.

by Noelle Vance
Daily Staff Writer
When census takers came to Ann
Arbor last March, members of the
Homeless Action Committee - an
organization which lobbies city leg-
islators for affordable housing -
urged Ann Arbor's homeless popula-
tipn to boycott the people count.
"The way the census was set up
it was only going to count certain
categories of homeless people and
ignore other categories," said HAC
member Jeff Gearhart.
"There's no way to count the
number of people living in garages
or on the streets who don't use the
shelters," explains HAC member
Jennifer Hall. "And there's no way
to account for the people who stay
with a cousin for a month."
One widely-circulated estimate -
which no one knows who began cir-
culating - puts the number of Ann
Arborites who are homeless at 1500.
And though the figure may be lower,
with five shelters filled to capacity
every night and most holding wait-
ing lists that are several hundred
names long, there's no doubt the
city has a problem.
Thereason is easy to identify, ac-
tivists and city council members
agree: there just isn't enough afford-
able housing.
"The cost of living in Ann Arbor
is so high in Ann Arbor that unless
you can afford to buy property, it's
not a great place to live," explains
Tom Haefner, case manager of Arbor
Haven, Ann Arbor's Salvation
Army-run shelter.
The average rent for a home near
the University's campus runs from
$279 per month for a sleeping room
to $1870 per month for a six bed-
room house, according to statistics
provided by the University's housing
Owning a home in Ann Arbor
varies, but a relatively inexpensive
house with three bedrooms costs
about $80-85,000, said Linda Jones,
a brokerowner at Arbor Homes real
"The cost of living is too pro-
hibitive," said Dawne Adam, a vol-
unteer with the Shelter Assosciation.
"Over 50 percent of our people have
jobs" she said, adding that even with
ACriw Cuts-~FatTp
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jobs, residents can not afford rent at
most of the city's housing.
Landlords say the rent has to be
high because property taxes are
high. "On some properties, (taxes)
can be as much as 20 to 30 percent
(of the property's value)," said
Michelle Stuart, a property manager
for Management of Michigan Com-
Additionally, with University
expansion, students have taken over
virtually all of the available housing
surrounding the campus, and the
rapid development of Ann Arbor has
brought a flux of affluent people,
new homes and businesses which are
replacing the few older homes avail-
able for low-income residences.
The issue is underscored by the
struggle between activists and city
council members over the develop-
ment of downtown Ann Arbor and
the construction of new parking
In November 1989 HAC orga-
nized its members - comprised of
students, Ann Arbor's homeless
people and community residents -
to stop the city from tearing down a
house on Ashley St.
The structure - one of two
which had been budgeted for in
November 1982 under Michigan's
Taxes Increment Financing Author-
ity plan - was supposed to be built
at a cost of $8 million.
HAC protested its construction.
because it meant tearing down a
house which had recently become
occupied by several homeless people
who renovated the area. It was the
first in several "visible actions"
taken by HAG and other tenants and
homeless action groups to pressure
the city to reallocate its funds.
"The business community says
their business is going down because
there's not enough parking," HAC
member Hall said. "But it's such a
joke because with expansion, down-
town's are a dying breed. People go
to shopping centers because they're
more convient... No one wants to
use the parking structures; they
could use the money for housing."
But Ann Arbor doesn't have the
money, city council members say.
"Where do we get this funding?"
asked Terry Martin (R-Second Ward)

"We have not had very good luck
with people objecting to their taxes
being raised... The federal budget has
been cut back too in some areas.
"We don't just throw those peo-
ple who have lived here a long time
in order to provide housing for those
who can't afford to live here," she
said, emphasizing that sharp in-
creases in taxes could could make it
harder for even more people to live
in the city.
Since 1980 federal funding appro-
priated to the Department of Hous-
ing and Urban Development for low
income housing has fallen by ap-
proximately 50 percent, according to
the 1990 U.S. government budget.
The cuts were made with the idea
that "the government was getting
out of the housing business," Adams
"Many groups in Ann Arbor
would like to make this a local prob-
lem when it has always been a na-
tional problem," said Ingrid Sheldon
(R-Second Ward), who has tradition-
ally not supported building more
low-income housing.
Ann Arbor currently hosts 343
low-income housing units funded by
HUD, and has 500 homes subsidized
by the Michigan State Housing De-
velopment Authority's Section 8
program, which helps tenants pay a
percentage of their rent determined
by their income.
The units serve families and peo-
ple with disabilities, and according
to Ann Arbor Housing Commission
records, the last units built were
constructed in 1981.
HAC has asked the city to build
at least 1500 more low-income
units, and a 1985 city council afford-
able housing task force reported the
city's low-income housing was in-
sufficient to meets its need, though
no specific figures were given on the
number of units that would have to
be built to eradicate that need.
As of now, tenants remain in the
Ashley St. house, and the city plans
to build 25 units of low-income
housing this fall. But other discus-
sions between the HAC and the
council about long-term solutions to
the homeless problem have generally
ended in stalemates.

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