Recently, the Ford Fund and Macomb County Habitat for Humanity announced they were looking for a City to work with on a potential container home project in Macomb county. The Ford Fund is providing $100,000 in grant assistance. The City Council showed support for the project at their December 17, 2019, meeting (see motion language below), our Economic Development Manager Kim Homan produced and submitted an application on December 30, 2019, and City Council set a public hearing with the Planning Commission to potentially modify the appropriate ordinances to build the container homes:
The public hearing occurred this past Thursday at the Planning Commission meeting. A few options were provided to the commission:
- The minimum floor and exterior building and wall materials could be changed across the board. This change would allow anyone in the city to build a home smaller than the current Ordinance of 880 square feet, and build a home with a steel exterior.
- The minimum floor and exterior building and wall materials could be considered on a case-by-case basis using a Special Land Use (SLU) or Planned Unit Development (PUD).
- No changes.
- Or, a combination of the above suggestions.
The Planning Commission eventually voted on #2, but the vote was a tie. The Commission typically has seven members, but one member was absent, and the vote was tied 3-3.
The previous statements are a succint and technical summary of what has occurred so far, as of February 9, 2020. The Macomb Daily made this project sound like a done deal. It is not. We cannot control the media.
I would like to see this project occur in Eastpointe because:
- This is a chance for investment in Eastpointe, and at the cost of Ford Fund, a private grant program. This program will not cost the taxpayers of Eastpointe (or the United States or Michigan) any money other than the required notices in the newspaper for certain aspects of the project. This cost will be roughly hundreds of dollars total, and Ford Fund is pitching in $100,000 to Macomb County Habitat for Humanity to complete this project.
- The eventual residents will pay property taxes, and at the same rate as any neighbor. Habitat for Humanity does not give away homes. They require sweat equity, and the owner to have a mortgage. The residents will be low-to-moderate income, but will cause no "burden" on Eastpointe taxpayers.
- The homes will be able to have sheds for additional storage, just as any other home can.
- Having homes less than 880 square feet will not reduce property values, as we already have several in the City. Having container homes will not reduce property values.
- The renderings of the container homes look great! Below is a comparison of the previous home, current property, and new rendering. The designs are not final, and only examples of what the property could look like.
Next steps are for the City Council to review the recommendation from the Planning Commission, take into account concerns from residents, and make a decision. The Ordinance changes are likely to be on upcoming agendas so that production of the container homes can start as quickly as possible, if the project is a go.