Ann Arbor, MI homeless advocates, developer clash 1/8/1998 FWD

Tom Boland (
Sat, 9 May 1998 14:48:20 -0700 (PDT)

Can anyone update this January story about Ann Arbor, Michigan?



     January 8, 1997

     By Maryanne George

     Detriot Free Press Ann Arbor Bureau

The continuing struggle against homelessness in one of the
state's most affluent cities swirls now around an 86-year-old
former armory in the center of Ann Arbor.

Advocates want the city to buy the old National Guard Armory
and turn it into a shelter for the growing ranks of the homeless.

Developer Ed Shaffran, who has an agreement with the
Michigan Department of Military Affairs to buy the two-story,
21,000-square-foot building for $405,000, wants to remodel it
with condominiums that would sell for $150,000 to $200,000.

At Monday night's City Council meeting, about 40 protesters --
most reportedly members of the Detroit-based National
Women's Rights Organizing Coalition (NWROC) -- disrupted
proceedings. After a recess failed to quiet the protest, Mayor
Ingrid Sheldon adjourned the meeting until 8 a.m. today.

The council is scheduled to vote on whether to rezone the
armory for residential development and approve Shaffran's

Jean Carlberg, one of seven Democratic council members who
voted previously to table Shaffran's plan, said she is trying to
postpone a new vote until the council can get accurate figures on
renovation costs.

"The search for a new shelter is a serious one. We want to make
sure we have all the information on the armory before taking it
out of consideration. Shelter is a public need that won't be met
by free-market forces," Carlberg said.

"All our shelters are full and turning people away."

Olaf Lidums, interim director of the Shelter Association of
Washtenaw County, estimates there are about 1,200 homeless
people in the county. The association can house about 150
people in three shelters it operates and through a rotating
program in area churches.

Other agencies such as the Salvation Army offer additional

Lidums said a shelter is needed, but his group doesn't condone
the disruptive protests.

Larry Fox, a member of the volunteer Homeless Action
Committee, proposes using public and private funds to buy and
renovate the armory for about $1 million.

But Sheldon said a 1994 city study showed it would take about
$2 million. "It would be cheaper to do from scratch," she said.


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