'We need more housing': How prices spiked in Ann Arbor, and what's being done to make homes more affordable

Posted at 9:56 AM, Jun 09, 2024

ANN ARBOR, Mich. (WXYZ) — From the downtown area of Ann Arbor, to the University of Michigan's campus and beyond, what city leaders are calling a housing shortage also feels like a crisis for residents like Tim Hiskes.

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Tim Riskes, Ann Arbor Resident

“I moved from Grand Rapids," Hiskes said. "Coming here definitely a little more expensive. I get it. The university is right there...just being in the area made it really tough to buy so we just ended up renting."

He's not alone. Whether you're renting or buying, a steady rise in cost of living is felt by all. For Tim Harrison, it's also a reason many feel priced out of the popular college town.

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Tim Harrison, Ann Arbor resident

"“It’s not cheap here," Harrison told us. "Really not cheap. It’s up to the type of landlord you are working with and property manager.”

Looking closer at why there's been limited inventory and who's benefitted, there are homeowners like William Riley.

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William Riley, Ann Arbor homeowner

“We’re just on the north edge of Ann Arbor, we’ve been here closing in on 12 years now," Riley said. “We’ve see the value of our house almost triple in a relatively short amount of time.”

I asked Ann Arbor City Council member Jen Eyer for her take on what's been happening in the past decade.

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Jen Eyer, Ann Arbor City Council member

“We are tens of thousands of housing units short," Eyer said. "We are in a typical supply and demand imbalance. High demand. Low supply. We need more housing.”

To tackle the issue, and make living more affordable, she says a variety of new changes recently passed now allow for more development.

“We have created a new zoning district to allow for more density downtown, on our transportation corridors throughout downtown," Eyer said.

“In terms of new housing, how much more could we see in Ann Arbor?" I asked.

“We need tens of thousands of new housing units in Ann Arbor," Eyer said. "It’s going to take some time. It’s not going to happen overnight.”

With council supporting allowing new homes and apartments to be built at a faster rate, there's the hope a supply shortage won't last, helping to make the community more inclusive.

For homeowners like William, it's also a chance at having more housing options in the future.

“If we were to sell this place where would we move to?," William pondered. "I don’t think we could buy the same place today given the way prices have gone up.”

That said, with a vibrant downtown including many shops, restaurants and businesses, he doesn't expect things to change overnight.

“Let’s face it," William said. "Ann Arbor is a beautiful community, and there’s so much going on here even outside of the university.”