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City Updates Fair Housing Plan

October 19, 2014

City updates Fair Housing Plan

by Joe Mortensen

The City of Midland’s Housing Commission is updating its Fair Housing Plan to assure compliance with all federal and state laws in the use of Community Block Development Grants (CBDG). The 40 page draft of the Plan combines up to date demographic data with a look at impediments to fair housing and proposes solutions to eliminate any impediments.

Development of the Plan requires that the City’s Housing Commission hold hearings to allow for public reaction and input prior to adoption by the Commission and the City Council. Hearings will be at City Hall on Wednesday, July 9, from 3:00 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. and on Thursday, July 10, from 5:00 p.m. to 6:30 p.m.

Grant Murschel, the City’s community development planner, explains that Midland receives Community Block Development Funds (CBDG) from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and thus must periodically review and revise its Fair Housing Plan to assure compliance. It was last updated in 2006.

Murschel values the “conversation with those affected by and those involved” in the Fair Housing Plan Update. “It’s beneficial for the whole community,” he said.

The Fair Housing Act of 1964 (amended 1988) bars discrimination based on race, color religion, national origin, sex, familial status, and disability. The State of Michigan’s own Civil Rights Act and Persons with Disabilities Civil Rights Act add two protected categories: age and marital status.

As an “entitlement community” the City receives HUD funds (approximately $200,000 per year at present) to maintain the stock of affordable housing for the benefit of low and moderate income residents. These funds are in turn passed along to “sub-grantee” non-profit organizations for facility improvements, safety and security systems, accessibility (such as a ramp at Cleveland Manor), public services, and Dial-a-Ride tickets.

Murschel underscored a major benefit of the CDBG program. “The local non-profit agencies are often able to leverage the CBDG funds with matching contributions and multiply the impact of the grant money,” he said.

The CBDG funds enable the City and its non-profit partners to rehabilitate homes, install new roofs and weather-proofing, make repairs, and see to proper water and sewer connections. Non-profit partners include The Open Door, Cleveland Manor, Shelterhouse, The Legacy Center, Midland Area Homes, Habitat for Humanity, West Midland Family Center, Reece Endeavor, Caregiving Network, Safe and Sound Child Advocacy Center, and Legal Services of Eastern Michigan.

From his office at City Hall Grant Murschel oversees agreements with the local non-profit agencies, provides resources for implementation, keeps track of those who have been helped, and establishes an audit trail. He also represents the City on the Midland County Continuum of Care.

The Midland Continuum combines the efforts of more than 20 non-profit and governmental agencies to prevent homelessness by providing housing-related services to those who are homeless or living in substandard housing.

Midland Continuum website:


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