By one estimate, nearly 62% of Detroit residents pay more than 30% of their monthly income for housing costs.

Although Detroit’s average monthly rent is well below the national average, the median household income is less than half the national average.

Housing and associated costs have consistently grown faster than incomes for far too many Detroiters, leaving many severely overstretched in their efforts to maintain safe and affordable housing.

The current condition clearly did not happen overnight.

Systemic inequalities, manifested in today’s racial wealth gap and the myriad of government policies at the local, state and federal levels, have contributed to the critical challenges we face today.

The global pandemic continues to impact the ability of Detroit residents to find housing.

Our organization, Cinnaire, was founded in 1993 and has since invested over $550 million in affordable housing in Detroit.

Designated by the US Treasury Department as a nonprofit community development financial institution, Cinnaire invests in communities often overlooked by traditional banks. We are guided by an unwavering belief that everyone deserves the opportunities offered by living in healthy communities.

We acknowledge the history of government actions that have reinforced neighborhood segregation and provided government subsidies for home ownership and wealth creation to some citizens, while preventing such access to others because of their race. .

Understanding this story is the first step to dealing with it.

Author Richard Rothstein’s 2017 book “The Color of Law: A Forgotten History of How Our Government Segregated America” ​​provides a critical analysis of how past government policies are responsible for much of what we see in today’s Detroit.

Building on this past, we can all work together to support and promote government policies that can meet today’s challenges.

CDFIs provide financing, equity investments, co-development partnerships and small business support to spur the development of Detroit neighborhoods.

The Low-Income Housing Tax Credit is Cinnaire’s main tool to create more than 6,000 affordable rental units in the city.

We also work with partners to create homeownership opportunities for low-to-middle income families in single-family homes that we have created through LIHTC investment.

The work we have done over the past 30 years has not been done alone.

Detroit has a powerful network of neighborhood-based community development organizations that engage in this important work across the city. I am honored to serve with these organizations on the Detroit Board of Community Development Advocates.

Detroit is also fortunate to have many other local, regional, and national CDFIs that support community development and small businesses. Recently, the informal CDFI group came together and formed the Detroit CDFI Coalition as a nonprofit organization focused on collaborative strategies to advance community development in the city. I encourage you to visit detroitcdficoalition.org to learn more about how we are working together to make a real impact in Detroit.

In 2022, we are in a rare window of opportunity to provide relief to the many Detroit residents looking for safe and affordable housing. The federal government has created new resources focused on post-pandemic economic recovery.

The current municipal administration has implemented an affordable housing preservation strategy and the CDFIs have mobilized to help preserve 10,000 natural and subsidized affordable housing units.

The Detroit City Council also passed an Inclusive Housing Ordinance to ensure that publicly supported developments will provide housing for a range of income levels. Low to middle income families can expect quality and desirable neighborhoods through these programs.

In Michigan’s current budget deliberations, Cinnaire and members of the Detroit CDFI Coalition have joined CDFIs across the state in advocating for policy in the state of Michigan to provide resources to support development community, including affordable housing and small businesses.

The proposed Michigan CDFI Fund aims to direct up to $150 million in American Rescue Plan Act funds to leverage our existing resources to spur local recovery from the pandemic.

We hope the Michigan Legislature takes this rare opportunity to provide resources to this group of institutions that have a proven track record of supporting the development of affordable housing and neighborhoods in Michigan.

Lucius Vassar is corporate counsel and executive vice president of fair engagement for Cinnaire.