EMU offers financial incentives to employs who choose to purchase homes in Ypsilanti

A lot of us have been pushing for a long time for EMU to get more aggressive about incentivizing its faculty and staff to live in Ypsilanti. And, happily, it looks like there’s finally some positive movenent in that direction. The following clip comes by way of AnnArbor.com.

Eastern Michigan University plans to offer employees up to $10,000 to purchase homes in Ypsilanti.

The Live Ypsi program, which is currently being finalized and will likely be announced later this month, will use EMU, Washtenaw County government and DTE Foundation resources to offer forgivable loans to full-time faculty and staff who purchase a home in the Ypsilanti area.

Officials say loans will likely range from $5,000 to $10,000 per individual. For each year that the homeowner lives in the Ypsilanti area and maintains employment at EMU, 20 percent of the loan will be forgiven. After five years, the loan will be completely forgiven.

The program has $60,000 secured for its pilot launch and a possible partnership with a state entity could mean more cash, said Anthony VanDerworp, director of Washtenaw County Economic Development.

“The program will begin small. It’s designed to be a pilot,” said EMU Director of Government Relations Leigh Greden, who began brainstorming about the program with Washtenaw County more than a year ago.

Live Ypsi, he says, is based of the Live Midtown program in Detroit, a larger but similar partnership between government and business entities to incentivize residential life…

For what it’s worth, I never suggested that EMU give people money outright to live in the city. For the most part, from what I recall, I suggested that they look into offering zero-percent interest loans for employees placing down-payments on homes in the City. (I believe I also suggested that they form partnerships with local real estate professionals, so that, when new hires were brought on-board, they could be given up-to-date information on Ypsilanti neighborhoods, and properties currently available. (As we’ve been told in the past, at no point during the hiring process, up until now, was it even suggested to new EMU employees that they should consider living in the City.) And, there’s also been talk, of course, about getting EMU more actively engaged in the turn around of Ypsi public schools, which, as we all know, is one of the main reasons that new EMU employees choose to live elsewhere… So, while I probably would have done it a little differently, I find it incredibly encouraging that EMU has chosen to undertake this initiative. It signals to me that, after years of pulling away from the City, they’re finally coming to the realization that they’ll never be truly successful as an institution until Ypsilanti is stable and thriving… Now let’s see how aggressively they push it, and how many of their employees take advantage of the program.

[note: Speaking of getting more people to live in the City, we’ve also discussed the possiblity of residency requirements for municipal employees. You’ll find our most recent conversation on that subject here.]

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  1. Rai Harashi
    Posted May 4, 2012 at 10:11 pm | Permalink


  2. dragon
    Posted May 5, 2012 at 1:45 am | Permalink


  3. Posted May 5, 2012 at 6:43 am | Permalink

    Thank you for sharing your insight, Rai. Your contributions are invaluable.

  4. Edward
    Posted May 5, 2012 at 7:24 am | Permalink

    The comments left after that AnnArbor.com article make me want to pack up my family and leave Michigan forever.

  5. SparkleMotion
    Posted May 5, 2012 at 7:32 am | Permalink

    Now’s the time to do so – I drove down Michigan Avenue for the first time in about 8 months this past week and was really surprised to find the level of activity out there with new stores, empty spaces that at least appear to be getting worked on, and most importantly, what appeared to be customers on the sidewalks. If I was new to the area and EMU community and saw this, I’d be a lot more interested in living in the area than if I had seen Michigan Avenue even 3 years ago. If EMU got involved in the local school district and results were tangible, and the city continued on the trajectory I see, I’d really consider bringing my family back there.

  6. Edward
    Posted May 5, 2012 at 7:55 am | Permalink

    A few of those AnnArbor.com comments:

    Ann English:
    People go reside where they’re freer. Low taxes mean the politicians believe in the people. High taxes locally mean the politicians don’t believe the taxpayers know best what’s good for them. Where people are freest to be all they can be (and that includes NO FORCED UNIONISM), the politicians believe in the people the most.

    If something is subsidized, it can’t survive where freedom and all the personal responsibility required to keep it, is how most of the people paying the taxes think and stay informed on those who lust for power over them.

    Top Cat:
    So people need to be bribed to live in Ypsi?

    Sounds good to me except you have a 50/50 chance of having $10,000 robbed right out your home the 1st year you live there. There’s a reason people are leaving Ypsi… it’s out of control with crime.

    Chase Ingersoll:
    Ah, if we didn’t already know who the Socialist Engineers were in Ypsilanti, once again they have raised their heads high, waved their hands in the air and jumped up and down screaming ‘It is we! It is we!”

    And why is this not seen as a transparent attempt to keep the city filled with liberal academics who will continue to elect a mayor who will cater them with special favors such as this?

    Keep it up Ypsilanti – you are almost as entertaining and almost broke as Detroit.

    Where I’m from this is called gentrification

  7. SparkleMotion
    Posted May 5, 2012 at 8:00 am | Permalink

    Well the best way to reply to that is simply the following:

    “Ypsilanti – we catch our rapists.”

  8. Posted May 5, 2012 at 10:19 am | Permalink

    Against my better judgment, I went and read the comments. There actually are some decent and nice ones on their now. To make myself feel better, I “voted down” the hater comments. Suck it, haters!!!!!

  9. New Prof
    Posted May 5, 2012 at 11:53 am | Permalink

    I started my new job as asst prof in Aug 2011 and am in the process of trying to buy my first house. Does anyone know how to get more info on this? The article says “first come first serve.” I don’t want to miss out. Thanks!

  10. J
    Posted May 5, 2012 at 12:55 pm | Permalink

    I am occasionally amazed by just how many bigoted dog whistles as.com commenters can fit in one small post. Could we move Ypsilanti some place nicer?

  11. EOS
    Posted May 5, 2012 at 1:24 pm | Permalink

    Who’s going to be dumb enough to fall for this “incentive”. If a person makes 50K a year, they’ll pay 2% or $1000 a year in city income taxes. After 5 years, the $5000 that they have paid in additional taxes will be forgiven from their “loan”. Then not only will they pay the extra burden of this tax without assistance in future years, but will be subjected to the added millages or lack of police services that will be necessary to balance the budget after the current 5 year plan ends and the Water Street payments increase further. And because of the excessive tax rates they will be hard pressed to find anyone willing to buy their home for a fraction of what they pay for it today. And why is EMU interested in helping to fund a plan that screws their own employees in this manner?

  12. Kip
    Posted May 5, 2012 at 3:24 pm | Permalink

    “The comments left after that AnnArbor.com article make me want to pack up my family and leave Michigan forever.”

    After reading some of your commentents I agree that would be best.

  13. Erika
    Posted May 5, 2012 at 4:49 pm | Permalink

    EOS: Where did you come up with 2%? Since the proposed income tax rate is 1%, with $1000 personal exemption, someone making $50,000 would pay $490 per year in taxes, unless they have dependents, in which case it would be less.

  14. Posted May 6, 2012 at 9:50 am | Permalink

    When I moved to Ypsilanti many years ago after living many other places around the country, people openly said “you are moving WHERE!? Moving to crime-ridden Ypsitucky!? Lots of critical things followed. I moved to Ypsilanti anyway, and the horrible things they predicted DID NOT ever happen. What DID happen was I found an accepting and diverse community which was walkable and had beautiful parks and fun festivals. I found an underground music scene, a symphony orchestra and a fine arts center, beautiful historic homes, accessible government, great city services and real neighborhoods with neighbors that actually know each other. We fight, we make up, and we move ahead. I am fond of saying that “Ypsilanti IS what other cities THINK they are”. Not a bad place to live
    after all.

  15. Posted May 6, 2012 at 1:37 pm | Permalink

    New Prof, according to a friend in the History department, the formal rollout of the program should happen soon. As of right now, from what I’m told, there are no details available.

  16. Decky Alexander
    Posted May 7, 2012 at 5:55 pm | Permalink

    When I was looking to possibly purchase my first home (9 years ago) I looked in the City of Ypsilanti as I was already living there.. Among many loves of the city was its engagement at the local level from politics to art. Another added plus was being Mark (as in Maynard’s) and Lynette’s next door neighbor (or rather we lived in separate apartments in the same house). I was probably not a major plus for them as I was prone to keeping stray cats.

    So…as a relatively new faculty member I was unable to afford to purchase a house in Ypsilanti given the (at the time) cost of the house and taxes. Incentives such as lower interest rates, closing costs, etc. would have assisted me greatly, and I would have no doubt purchased a house in the city of Ypsilanti. Many new staff members and faculty members if they have no spouse or other source of income may not be able to purchase a house in Ypsilanti particularly in the first years of their employment, and thus this program could not just be an incentive but bridge a financial gap. I think it’s important for the employees of a publicly supported university to try and live at some time in the community, which houses it.

    A comparable program was launched with great success in Ann Arbor. Many municipal employees of Washtenaw County and the City of Ann Arbor were able to purchase town homes on Stone School Road. The cost of such townhouses were subsidized by the city/county, and thus it allowed people who worked there to also live (buy houses) there.

  17. Meta
    Posted June 3, 2012 at 6:11 pm | Permalink

    DTE handed over a check, so I guess that makes this real.

    The following comes from The Courier.

    “On June 1, the DTE Foundation presented a check to the program for $30,000.”

    Read More:

  18. Brainless
    Posted August 10, 2012 at 10:36 am | Permalink

    annarbor.com has an article from someone who took up EMU on this offer:

    Oh, and there’s the same spate of cretinous, language-challenged comments from anti-Ypsi’s finest, but it looks like the town is standing up for itself this time.

  19. S. Bar
    Posted October 24, 2013 at 8:28 pm | Permalink

    Offer them bulletproof vests maybe?

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