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June 18, 1981 - Image 3

Resource type:
Michigan Daily, 1981-06-18

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The Michigan Daily-Thursday, June 1,8, 19$1--Page3

AATU urges tenant activism

Daily staff writer
"What'll you do?" sigh thousands of students, year
after year, about Ann Arbor's "unique" housing
situation. The woes of high rents and sometimes poor
living conditions in the city are endlessly voiced as
students throw up their hands in exasperation ... and
usually do nothing more.
The hesitancy of students to do something more
than whine about housing conditions is a problem,
according to members of the Ann Arbor Tenant's
Union. Housing rates and conditions do not have to be
controlled absolutely by landlords, they say, if only
tenants would take an active role in trying to change
the situation.
THE AATU WAS founded when tenants-many of
them students-did exactly that. In 1968, local
housing conditions were generally worse than they
are now. One day that year, a sign was posted on the
wall of ail apartment building on E. Hoover. The sign
read: "Join the Tenant's Union Rent Strike."

Within three months, 1,500 tenants had pledged to
withhold their rent in what was hailed as the nation's
largest rent strike.
Rent strikes-withholding rent in an escrow ac-
count for maintenance-have become fairly common
over the last several years, according to AATU
member Dale Cohen. And, he said, they are perfectly
legal and valid.
IN MICHIGAN, Cohen explained, there is a legal
understanding between the tenant and landlord: If
rent is paid, the place has to be well-maintained.
But things don't always work out that way. Tenants
of one house cited by Cohen went to move in, and
found there were no locks or latches, but there were
more than 100 bags of trash in the backyard. The lan-
dlord, Dale Newman, "just didn't do any maintenan-
ce," Cohen said.
According to Cohen, this is not uncommon. In
another house Cohen described, support beams in the
basement had been cut for heating installation; the
chimney had "fallen through the ceiling," there were

no smoke detectors, and there were half a dozen other
"Typically, not so many things happen at once,"
Cohen said. But if the place isn't well-maintained,
and if the landlord ignores requests for repairs,
withholding rent is the "most effective" line of action
a tenant can take, he said, explaining that it's like
saying to a landlord, "Look, you're not going to get
any money from us without the repairs. Why not
spend a little on the repairs; you'll still be ahead."
ONCE A RENT strike has been initiated, the lan-
dlord will probably try to sue for the money. At that
point, Cohen advised, tenants should talk to someone
from the Tenant's Union or Legal Services, and the
next action is usually the filing of a counterclaim that
the landlord didn't hold up his or her part of the rental
"In some cases, people have gotten back more (in
compensation) than they paid in rent," Cohen said.
Last spring, tenants of the house at 736 S. State St.
See AATU, Page 11
Doctors in
surplus or
Daily staff writer
In the next ten years, Michigan may
suffer from either a severe shortage or
a severe surplus of doctors, depending
on who you believe. Conflicting reports
on the state's needs for doctors have
been issued by the state Office of Health
and Medical Affairs and a private
research firm commissioned by the
state Senate.
The Public Sector Consultants' report
ACKIE BELL to a Senate study group recommends
that medical school enrollments be
maintained at the present level, as it
reports there will be a shortage of doc-
OHMA HAS asked for a reduction in
enrollments to stave off the future sur-
plus of doctors it predicts.
The two reports agree on one point:
there is a need for state planning to
create incentives that will lure doctors
to medically underserved areas in
Michigan. Gerald Faverman, president
of PSC, said, "There are 70 counties
he mayor, (out of 83) in the state that either don't
have doctors or have a below-average"
epartmen- distribution.
cated. For "Our difficulty is that we need to do
of heavy things to encourage retention and bet-
t may have ter distribution of physicians, and
there is not stress more primary care," Faverman
ts and the said.
THERE IS evidence that "increased
m glad we supply has relieved maldistribution,"
vent along Faverman said. Research indicates
jor Walter that "where students finish residency is
d he would where they're most apt to settle. We
n" twice a think we need a continuing supply of
doctors," he said.
emergency Elliot Wicks, chief of special studies
eople about and analysis at OHMA, disagrees. "It is
d cut down highly unlikely that an increase (of doc-
tors) will result in doctors going to
emergency shortage areas," he said. "Most
oothly, but physicians will continue to go to the
were some same areas they go to now," adding to
the unequal distribution and increased
alistic, yet health care costs, he said.
you see the Wicks said the conflicting reports are
hitting city a result of "differences in
See DOCTORS, Page 10

Daily Photo byJ
Exploring the underworld
Two young children carefully investigate a sewer grate on campus near the Diag.
Mock disasters hiei

Daily staff writer
Yesterday was a busy day for the city's emergency per-
A tornado ripped through Ann Arbor, splitting the city in
two and destroying countless homes and businesses. Train
cars derailed in the area, spilling radioactive materials.
Trees fell around the city, blocking streets and tearing down
telephone and electric wires, and a major fire broke out at
the hospital.
ALL OF THIS happened over the course of one and a half
hours during the city's disaster simulation. And though it
would be an exaggeration to say the only real disaster was
the operation itself, the mayor and other city officials all
acknowledged that the city was less than well prepared to
deal with such crises.,
Secretaries and police explorers shuffled back and forth
between departmental desks marked "Disaster Court,"
"Fire," "Shelter Operations," and a half dozen others in the
mock disaster preparedness operation conducted in City
Hall's basement yesterday afternoon.
THE TOTAL OPERATION took about one and a half
hours. At the end, Belcher recommended that the city change
the emergency system.
"The problem is we don't have the communications,"
said the mayor, "and we need to prioritize problems."
The communications between the departments might be

aided by a more centralized approach, said tl
possibly by using a computer.
He said under the current system individual d
ts don't know how the city's total resources are allo
instance, one department may have a surplus
equipment and personnel, and another department
a severe shortage. Yet, under the present system, t
much contact between the different departmen
inequities would remain.
"WE MADE AN awful lot of mistakes and I'
made them," said Sprenkel, who coordinated the e
with the director of the city's Civil Defense, Ma
Hawkins, of the police department. Hawkins saii
like to see an "Emergency Operation Simulatio
Last July an authentic disaster caused a real f
in Ann Arbor. Belcher reminded the crowd of 50 pf
the July, 1980 storm that caused trees to topple an
wires producing multiple fires and blocking roads.
HE SAID THAT two years ago the city had anE
simulation like this and that everything, went sm
when real disaster struck last July there v
The tone of yesterday's simulation was re
Hawkins noted one contrived convenience: "If3
path of the tornado, we purposely avoided it 1

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