The desperate need for affordable housing in Ann Arbor, the story of the black history mural that brought the community together, and nudity on the radio… on episode 32 of the Saturday Six Pack

SSP32head2

Every episode of the Saturday Six Pack, toward the end, devolves into chaos. It’s been that way since we first started the show. We begin each episode with the best of intentions, but, somewhere along the line, things start to careen off in a direction that would wouldn’t have thought possible just a few hours earlier. Sometimes it’s because we’ve opened one beer too many, and sometimes it’s because, despite our efforts to keep the the insanity of Ypsilanti outside, it finds its way into the AM 1700 studio. And that’s what happened this past episode, when a young man came in, took a seat, and promptly began disrobing…

Before we get to that, though, I’d like to talk about our first guests, all of whom had the decency to remained clothed through their segment… For the entire first hour, after kicking things off with a song by Minus9, we talked about affordable housing with Ann Arbor City Council’s Chuck Warpehoski, the former Director of the Washtenaw County Office of Community and Economic Development Mary Jo Callan, Avalon Housing’s Michael Appel, and Brett Lenart, who, as deputy director of Washtenaw County’s Housing and Community Infrastructure department, worked on the drafting of the 2015 Affordable Housing and Economic Equity Analysis which informed much of our conversation.

While our conversation, for the most part, centered around the growing need for affordable housing in Ann Arbor, we covered a lot of ground over the course of the hour. We discussed the perception that Ann Arbor doesn’t need affordable housing, “because that’s what Ypsilanti is for,” and what might happen in something significant isn’t done soon to create more balance across the County. We talked about consultant Rob Krupica’s recommendation that, over the next 20 years, 3,139 “non-student affordable rental units” be built in Ann Arbor and Pittsfield Township, while, at the same time, policies be enacted to increase demand for housing in Ypsilanti (both City and Township) that would draw an additional 4,178 “college educated” households. (By doing this, Krupica said, we might be able to avoid the financial collapse in Ypsilanti, which would in turn negatively impact the rest of the County.) And we talked about what might happen if action isn’t taken, and Ypsilanti’s poverty level rises above 30%. We also discussed what efforts were already underway in Ann Arbor to help address the growing economic segregation we’re seeing as a community. (Our’s is now the 8th most economically segregated region in the entire United States.) My guests and I discussed the 50-unit affordable housing development that’s been proposed on Platt Road, the community uproar against it, and what it might mean for the future of the County if 50 units can’t be built in Ann Arbor when over 3,000 are needed. We talked about the history of Avalon Housing, and the lessons that they’ve learned after 20 years in the business of providing affordable housing in Ann Arbor. And we discussed the possibility of enacting laws that would require developers in Ann Arbor to build a certain number of affordable apartments for every so many luxury units that are built. There was a lot more, but my hope is that’s enough to get you interested enough to listen… Here, clockwise from the top left, are Michael, Mary Jo, Brett and Chuck.

SSP32afordablehousing

[If you would like to listen to episode thirty-two of The Saturday Six Pack, you can either download it from iTunes or scroll the bottom of the page, where you’ll find the Soundcloud file embedded.]

Then, during the 7:00 hour, we talked with Ypsi Community Schools art teacher Lynne Settles, local historian Matt Siegfried, an Ypsi High student by the name of Paris, and Jackson-based artist Douglas Jones, who, along with several dozen YCS students, just created a new mural commemorating the life and accomplishments of HP Jacobs, a runaway slave from Alabama who made his way to Ypsilanti, became a janitor at what is now Eastern Michigan University, and then went on to found both a church and a school for black children here, before heading back south for several years after the Civil War, where he served in the Mississippi State Senate, helped found what is now Jackson State University, and, at the age of 65, become a doctor. [below: The HP Jacobs mural on the side of Currie’s barbershop, at 432 Harriet Street.]

JacobsMuralMS

My guests and I discussed the amazing life of HP Jacobs, and why it is that, while everyone in town seems to know about the successful black inventor Elijah McCoy, few seem to know him. [Siegfried suggests that we know about McCoy because he was a black man who “made it” in a white man’s word, whereas Jacobs had been successful in creating a strong and independent black world.] We discussed how the mural came to be, and the impact the project had on those young people who helped to create it. We talked about the need for projects like this, which give young people a voice in their community, and the possibility that we could see more murals like it in the near future. And Lynne, who just began teaching in the district, gave us her impression of Ypsi’s kids. [She likes them quite a bit.]… Here, clockwise from the top left, are Lynne, Matt, Douglas and Paris.

SSP32mural

Finally, at 7:30, reporter Tom Perkins came by to talk about his his role as local muckraker and how it sometime interferes with his love of pickle-making. Sadly, though, halfway through our conversation, just as things were starting to get heated between us, the door of the studio swung open, and our lives were changed forever…

Colin Moorhouse, the editor of the zine Ypsi Underground, stepped into the studio. I didn’t make much of it at first, as he’s stopped by the studio before to drop off copies of his zine, but, this time, he took a seat and just sat there, looking at us…

I can’t remember when exactly it occurred to me that he’d begun taking off his clothes. I think maybe Tom and I were beginning to talk about his recent article on the toxicity of Water Street, when, out of the corner of my eye, I caught Colin beginning to unbutton his shirt. And that’s when things started to move in slow motion for me, as it dawned on me what was happening…

Here are Colin and Tom, just hanging out and chatting with me. [My favorite line of the night had to be when Conlin said, “My face is up here, Tom,” to Perkins.]

Shortly after the following photo was taken, we heard a police siren approaching, and Colin ran into the night, while the rest of us got to work disinfecting the studio furniture with bleach. [Colin had sat nude in multiple chairs over the course of the 15 minutes or so that he was with us, drinking beer, and talking about the new issue of his zine, which, not surprisingly, is full of nudity. [It even contains a full-color photo of his cult leader’s taint.]]

SSP32collinperkins

Oh, and our favorite prank caller, The Who Guy, phoned in after a long absence… Or at least someone called in claiming to be him. Either way, it was wonderful.

Thanks, as always, to AM 1700 for hosting the show, Kate de Fuccio for documenting everything with her camera, and Brian Robb for running the board, making sure the bills paid, and insuring that the toilet paper and bleach stays stocked.

If you like this episode, check out our archive of past shows at iTunes. And do please leave a review if you have the time, OK? It’s nice to know that people are listening, and, unless you call in, that’s pretty much the only way we know.

Now, if you haven’t already, please listen for yourself, and experience the magic firsthand.

This entry was posted in Art and Culture, History, Uncategorized, Ypsilanti and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Post a comment or leave a trackback: Trackback URL.

24 Comments

  1. Jean Henry
    Posted November 13, 2015 at 7:23 am | Permalink

    Why does one need to clean a seat with bleach after a naked guy sits in it? Are naked people actually dirty? Did he poop on the chairs and that’s why he sat in so many? Does being actually physically dirty have something to do with the excitement aroused by naked people? These are the questions arising… It seems to me that the absence of shame is frightening (and exciting) to many.

  2. Anonymous
    Posted November 13, 2015 at 8:00 am | Permalink

    Lighten up, Jean. I’m sure it was a joke. I suspect they actually licked the seat clean.

  3. Jean Henry
    Posted November 13, 2015 at 8:41 am | Permalink

    I sure hope it was a joke. That’s how I took it. I guess I just thought it was a telling one. I must be uptight.

  4. BrianR
    Posted November 13, 2015 at 8:42 am | Permalink

    Jean, we clean the station with bleach after every Saturday Six Pack — it’s station policy.

  5. Eel
    Posted November 13, 2015 at 8:48 am | Permalink

    Nudity aside, how will Ann Arbor ever reach their goal of 3,000 affordable housing units if they can’t get the 50 on Platt Road approved?

  6. site admin
    Posted November 13, 2015 at 9:36 am | Permalink

    Mark blogs every night from inside a tub of bleach. It’s an OCD thing.

  7. Spence Bryant
    Posted November 13, 2015 at 9:47 am | Permalink

    Yuppie puppies and the Beautiful rich are forcing out good working class and the poor.

  8. King
    Posted November 13, 2015 at 10:50 am | Permalink

    Ann Arbor will not build affordable housing. The will build “workforce housing” for nurses and firefighters who, while they aren’t rich, still make good livings, and they’ll feel good about themselves, but they won’t build housing that restaurant and retail employees can afford. Those people, along with the rest of the poor, can live in Ypsilanti. If our Washtenaw County leaders were worth a damn, they would muster the political will to fix the situation. Instead they will kick the can down the road, like they always do, watching as Ann Arbor gets richer and Ypsilanti gets poorer.

  9. Posted November 13, 2015 at 11:48 am | Permalink

    Towards the end of hour 1, there’s discussion of Al Berriz’ comments on building workforce housing in downtown A2; Mark, you ask why McKinley doesn’t do a project in Ypsi, and Chuck comments on how much housing McKinley does have in Ypsilanti. They do own or manage several hundred apartments along Golfside Road and Ford Lake — just none (to my knowledge) within the City limits.

    If I recall, about a decade ago McKinley approached the city about buying/rehabbing Parkview Apartments as well as taking over management of the Ypsi Housing Commission’s properties. Before my time in city hall, so I can’t remember whether City Council as a body gave Berriz a formal “nope” or just telegraphed by individual members, but might not be the most unreasonable thing to invite him back.

  10. Posted November 13, 2015 at 11:59 am | Permalink

    In general, thanks for the first hour’s conversation to Mark and all involved — it should be required listening for anybody who attended the County’s Equity Summit on Monday. That event covered a lot of good ground in the areas of law enforcement, public health, and education, but was conspicuously missing any discussion of jobs or opportunity within Ypsilanti — so I was glad to hear Brett and Mary Jo bring that need up on your show.

  11. kjc
    Posted November 13, 2015 at 1:15 pm | Permalink

    “workforce housing” in downtown ann arbor should include service workers (to avoid being euphemistic bullshit).

  12. anonymous
    Posted November 13, 2015 at 1:34 pm | Permalink

    If McKinley built workforce housing at Water Street, instead of downtown Ann Arbor, as they’re suggesting, would they have trouble filling the units? We talk a lot about how families won’t buy here because of the schools, but might there be an opportunity for non-subsidized apartments on Water Street catering to middle income singles? I keep hearing that there is a waiting list for lofts along Michigan Avenue. Is it insane to think that the market might sustain a new 100 unit development that isn’s section-eight downtown?

  13. Meta
    Posted November 13, 2015 at 1:39 pm | Permalink

    Berriz defined “workforce” people as those who make between $37,000 to $75,000 a year.

    From MLive:

    When talking about workforce housing, Berriz said, he’s still talking about affordable housing, but not publicly subsidized housing for low-income people. He said he’s talking about apartments for people earning 60-120 percent of the area median income, which means people earning roughly $37,000 to $75,000.

    Read more:
    http://www.mlive.com/news/ann-arbor/index.ssf/2015/10/mckinley_ceo_makes_case.html

  14. Kat
    Posted November 13, 2015 at 2:23 pm | Permalink

    I think you might be onto something when you say that the only way to get people in Ann Arbor to accept affordable housing is to threaten merging our school districts.

  15. Murph
    Posted November 13, 2015 at 4:48 pm | Permalink

    Is there a path to school district merger that doesn’t put the question to a vote in the AAPS district? Otherwise, using a schools merger as a “threat” to be avoided with affordable housing development seems toothless. If it’s that threatening, they’ll just vote it down.

  16. Jcp2
    Posted November 13, 2015 at 6:57 pm | Permalink

    Murph,

    The only way to force a merger between AAPS and YCS is for YCS to fall into financial distress so that an emergency manager is appointed to dissolve the district, place all the students into charter schools, have those schools fail, and then assign the students to the closest intact school district, of which AAPS would be one. Of course, this is unlikely to draw people from Ann Arbor to Ypsilanti to better the prospects of development of higher value residential real estate.

  17. Murph
    Posted November 13, 2015 at 7:21 pm | Permalink

    Jcp2, you’re mixing the Muskegon Heights (all charter) model with the Inkster and Buena Vista dissolve-and-divide model. I don’t think any district has had both done to it, and the Inkster model is probably more likely to be replicated.
    If YCS were to fail financially, it adjoins Lincoln, Ann Arbor, Plymouth-Canton, and Van Buren to be split between — not necessarily achieving the effect of a merger with A2, as you note, either for the students, the community, or outsiders’ perceptions.

  18. Stupid Hick
    Posted November 13, 2015 at 8:36 pm | Permalink

    Maybe a solution is Ypsilanti could pay rich people to move to the city? Or offer them tax breaks. Rich people love tax breaks, don’t they?

  19. Jcp2
    Posted November 14, 2015 at 7:26 am | Permalink

    Murph, I was mistaken. The governor will put YCS into the EAA, then when that fails, he will ask charters for help, then when that fails, he will dissolve the district, all while residents in the area pay taxes to the old YCS.

  20. Posted November 14, 2015 at 9:04 am | Permalink

    I know the conversation has moved on from nudity, but I just wanted to say that I’m not really all that shocked by the nude human form. I occasionally go tot he gym, where I’m surrounded by nude men. My response in this case was not to Colin’s nudity, but to the fact that he had chosen to become nude in the studio, during my segment with Tom. After a while, it was kind of a non-issue. But, yes, there was an initial shock. I probably should have noted it in the post, but the interesting thing to me was just how little I noticed his nudity after the initial shock. It really wasn’t a big deal at all. And, for what it’s worth, no one cleaned the seat Colin was sitting on. No one will ever clean it.

  21. Posted November 14, 2015 at 9:10 am | Permalink

    As for the McKinley stuff, the thing I was trying to get at is this… McKinley is trying to get the city of Ann Arbor to sell them downtown property for the building of “workforce” housing, and I believe that the city should be looking at these properties instead for “affordable” housing. Workforce housing, in my opinion, does not need the help of the city. If we’re going to invest community assets in any way, when it comes to housing, it should be to increase downtown affordable housing in Ann Arbor and downtown workforce housing in Ypsilanti. Anything else, in my opinion, moves us further from the goals of the Affordable Housing and Economic Equity report.

  22. Posted November 14, 2015 at 9:14 am | Permalink

    As for the threat of merger, you’re right, before a merger could happen, there would have to be a vote. And, based on what I know of the situation, such a vote would, without a doubt, fail in Ann Arbor. What that said, though, I still think the idea of a merger vote could motivate people in Ann Arbor to move forward with affordable housing. Even if the vote would invariably loose, it’s not a public debate that Ann Arborites want to enter into.

  23. Marisol
    Posted November 16, 2015 at 9:50 am | Permalink

    There will be no affordable housing in Ann Arbor because that’s not what the people of Ann Arbor want. And they get what they want.

  24. Peter Larson
    Posted November 19, 2015 at 2:32 am | Permalink

    Interesting.

3 Trackbacks

  1. […] Not too long ago on The Saturday Six Pack, I talked with Ypsi Community Schools (YCS) art teacher Lynne Settles, local historian Matt Siegfried, an Ypsi High student by the name of Paris, and Jackson-based artist Douglas Jones about the work they’d done, along with several dozen YCS students, to create a new mural on the south side of Ypsi commemorating the incredible life and accomplishments of HP Jacobs, a runaway slave from Alabama who made his way to Ypsilanti, became a janitor at what is now Eastern Michigan University, and then went on to found both a church and a school for black children here, before heading back south for several years after the Civil War, where he served in the Mississippi State Senate, helped found what is now Jackson State University, and, at the age of 65, become a doctor. Well, as much as I’d like to think that, during our discussion, we collectively conveyed a sense of just how incredibly inspiring this project was, there’s really no substitute for seeing Ypsi’s young artists working on it firsthand. And, now, thanks to the folks at Dream Real Photo & Video, you can do just that… Check out this incredible piece of video. […]

  2. By Ypsi Immigration Interview: Lynne Settles on January 22, 2016 at 11:01 am

    […] with Ypsi High art teacher Lynne Settles a few times over this past year, about the HP Jacobs mural that she and her students had created on the side of Currie’s barbershop, and other community […]

  3. […] on the findings of the County’s Affordable Housing & Economic Equity Analysis report and build new affordable housing in Ann Arbor… I don’t know to what extent Florida’s speech might have sunk in, but I know […]

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