Renters’ rights group rallies at housing conference in Lansing

(Ken Coleman/Michigan Advance)

By Michigan Advance

May 15, 2024

BY KEN COLEMAN, MICHIGAN ADVANCE

MICHIGAN—Chanting “Build for renters’ needs, not investors’ greed,” a group of residential renters rallied on Tuesday outside of the Lansing Center as a state government agency held its Building Michigan Communities Conference in downtown Lansing.

The conference is hosted by the Michigan State Housing Development Authority (MSHDA).

The Rent Is Too Damn High, a coalition of Michigan organized renters, demanded “real housing solutions that put renters, homeless people, and struggling Michiganders first,” according to a handout distributed at the morning demonstration.

“We can not survive if we don’t have a house,” said Rosey White of Detroit. “It’s a human right.”

The coalition, which has lobbied the state Legislature and Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, is calling for rent control, “renters’ rights, housing first policies and social housing policies.”

“The bottom line is that renters are suffering and the rent is too damn high and the Legislature has been sitting on some very important renters’ rights bills,” said William Lawrence of Lansing. “We’re here to raise the level of urgency.”

Activists called on Whitmer and the state Legislature to support a set of bills that it advocates for:

  • HB 4878, which is sponsored by state Rep. Abraham Aiyash (D-Hamtramck), would create housing opportunities for returning citizens.
  • HB 5237, which is sponsored by state Rep. Emily Dievendorf (D-Lansing), would create a tenants’ right to counsel legislation.
  • SB 205, which is sponsored by state Sen. Mary Cavanagh (D-Redford Twp.), aims to prohibit housing discrimination based on income.
  • HB 4062, which is sponsored by state Rep. Jennifer Conlin (D-Ann Arbor), also aims to prohibit housing discrimination based on income.
  • SB 801, which is sponsored by state Sen. Rosemary Bayer (D-West Bloomfield), aims to expunge and seal eviction records.

Josh Pugh, MSHDA external affairs director, told the Advance that the agency “respects and appreciates the passion and engagement of those who organized outside the Lansing Center.”

“We share their concern about the national housing crisis and are urgently working to confront its impacts in Michigan,” Pugh said. “As the country’s largest state-level administrator of federal Housing Choice Vouchers, MSHDA helps about 30,000 families pay their rent every month. We are also the state’s largest financier of affordable housing, committing more than half a billion dollars in support for multifamily housing last year alone.”

“We also understand that we must do more, which is exactly why we are gathered at the Lansing Center with over 1,000 attendees of the Building Michigan Communities Conference, discussing how we can innovate to build more affordable housing,” Pugh continued.

READ MORE: ‘Rent is too damn high’: Michigan Dems plan to tackle housing costs

This coverage was republished from Michigan Advance pursuant to a Creative Commons license.

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