From the Top
Detroit’s rich history has seen innumerable stages of growth and change in its people, its art, its politics, and its industry. In recent years, the city has experienced myriad development efforts aimed at addressing various troubles—economic challenges after bankruptcy, longstanding social divides, and now a housing crisis that has bubbled up, in part, because of the revitalization of some neighborhoods. SmartAsset reported that while Detroit experienced the highest rent increase of more than 48 percent from 2014 to 2017, household income growth lagged, increasing by less than 18 percent during that same period. While rent prices skyrocket, incomes stagnate, and residents with lower incomes in the Midtown area have been forced to live in more affordable housing further and further from the city’s center, and further from their jobs, creating an unsustainable relationship between income, housing costs, and transportation availability.
The Cast and Crew
Two organizations partnered to launch the Stay Midtown project: Capital Impact Partners, a national community development financial institution, and Midtown Detroit, Inc. (MDI), a nonprofit 501(c)(3) created to support and enhance community and economic development in Midtown and New Center areas. Housing cost burden impacts nearly 74,000 rental households in Detroit. There is an estimated two- to four-year gap in the supply of affordable housing in the city. Stay Midtown maximizes housing security for area residents by helping them deal with rising rent costs so that they might stay longer in their homes.
The Plot Thickens
The swift movement of the Detroit housing market post-bankruptcy and Stay Midtown’s short three-year project lifespan presented Capital Impact and MDI with distinct challenges. To inform the development of future programs of a similar nature that could serve Detroit residents for years to come, Capital Impact and MDI needed information about their program’s effectiveness and they needed it fast. With big goals in mind that would deeply affect the financial relief felt by the 150 program participants, the two organizations called on PSC to perform a comprehensive evaluation of Stay Midtown.
“PSC’s thorough evaluation of Stay Midtown allowed us to compare program outcomes with neighborhood trends and stakeholder perceptions for a better understanding of the program’s impacts. This evaluation critically informed our ability to design and update programs to meet our mission and support residents’ needs.”
Ashlee Cunningham—Capital Impact Partners
Research, Innovate, Action
PSC was called in to evaluate Stay Midtown’s impact on participants’ overall housing and financial security and evaluate the program’s strengths, challenges, and future opportunities. Our seasoned team of data analysts and evaluation specialists went to work gathering qualitative and quantitative data that compared Stay Midtown against other similar capital investment projects across the country. They performed surveys, interviews, and market and benchmark analyses to provide a holistic, accurate picture of the project’s performance and impact. PSC customized the evaluation strategy to get a comprehensive understanding of three main topics:
- Participation barriers
- Efforts to ensure the availability of affordable housing in the area
- What other cities around the nation were doing to ensure housing affordability and equitable access to benefits of economic growth, reinvestment, and revitalization
In addition to the evaluation, PSC made further recommendations to Stay Midtown, such as providing tiered subsidies based on income levels, partnering with other social service agencies to help participants increase their incomes and reduce other household expenditures, and continuing to engage with stakeholders from other organizations and local government that support affordable housing, community development, and social services.
For Michigan and Beyond
At the end of the evaluation project, PSC provided Capital Impact and MDI with valuable findings and recommendations that can fuel the development of similar capital investment programs. Each of the data points collected, the research findings, and the recommendations were presented to Capital Impact and MDI in a formatted report, broken down further into digestible pieces which both organizations display on their websites.
With the general high marks the program received from participants and a reduction in financial burden for many participants for the duration of the project, PSC was also able to provide evidence for the effectiveness of the program’s investments.
of participants said Stay Midtown made it easier to afford other essential items and household expenses
of participants would have sought lower-cost housing outside the district or city without Stay Midtown
Both partners can use the information to inform longer-term and wider-reaching community and economic development opportunities in Detroit, such as the City of Detroit’s Preservation Partnership. Both Capital Impact Partners and Midtown Detroit, Inc. continue to invest in Detroit’s well-being.
Chris Hughes—Midtown Detroit, Inc.