by Geoff Larcom, Published May 19, 2014
YPSILANTI – A family empowerment program led by Eastern Michigan University is cited as a central factor in Ypsilanti’s Hamilton Crossing redevelopment project winning a major national award for excellence in affordable housing.
The project, which rejuvenated a dilapidated yet highly visible apartment complex at the corner of South Hamilton and Harriet Streets just north of I-94, won a national 2014 Charles L. Edson Tax Credit Excellence award. The award was given in seven categories, with Hamilton Crossing the winner in the Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Preservation Properties category.
The renovation of the former Parkview apartments began in summer of 2012 and was completed in May of 2013. Along with the remarkable recovery of the desolate site, the Hamilton Crossing project featured The Family Empowerment Program (FEP), an EMU-led effort to help 70 families in the new development connect more effectively with the economic, educational and health resources of the broader, vibrant community.
The areas of emphasis included technology and Internet training, job programs, adult literacy and education, access to medical and dental care, and leadership development. Marquan Jackson, director of the FEP program, works with EMU School of Social Work students to implement programming that will help residents meet their own goals, and to eventually graduate the program and move on to home ownership or market-rate housing.
"EMU has been a partner on this project for several years, working with local and county government, the United Way of Washtenaw County and community groups to create a Family Empowerment Program for residents,” said Russ Olwell, Director of the Institute for the Study of Children, Families and Communities at EMU. “This program, with major support from the Kresge Foundation, has enabled residents to meet their own educational, employment and health goals. We are already seeing positive results in the lives of people living at Hamilton Crossing."
Zachary Fosler, the executive director of the Ypsilanti Housing Commission, the project’s sponsor, will accept the national award at a ceremony to be held in Washington D.C. on June 11, with representatives from EMU and the Kresge Foundation also in attendance.
Michigan State Housing Development Authority, HUD grants, funds from Washtenaw County and a tax credit through the Great Lakes Capital Fund provided financing for the rehabilitation effort. Half of Hamilton Crossing’s units are part of the subsidized housing program, half are market-rate units.