Inclusionary housing is a new concept for rural Sylvan Township—a municipality where 72% of its housing stock is single family homes on a minimum of two acres. Still, the township’s Board of Trustees listened intently to a presentation on the subject during its March 6 board meeting. The presentation, initiated by Trustee and Planning Commissioner Cyndi Jabara, led to several officials and residents voicing their desire to reexamine permitted use of space in the township. “I think it’s a tremendous waste of land out here,” said resident Bob Pierce. Not only that, but lack of inclusionary housing often pushes more and more people out of the community, such as seniors living on fixed incomes and younger people seeking independence, said presenter Teresa Gillotti of Washtenaw County Office for Community and Economic Development.
Affordable housing, inextricably linked to the concept of inclusionary housing, is defined as housing (mortgage or rent, taxes and insurance) for an individual or family that costs no more than 30% of their gross annual income. When considering housing and transportation (car payment, car insurance, maintenance and gas) costs together, the income target increases to no more than 45% gross annual income, Gillotti said. But according to Center for Neighborhood Technology’s Housing & Transportation [Affordability] Index, more than two-thirds of Washtenaw County residents spend more than 45% of their monthly income on housing and transportation combined.