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 Deerfield Elementary School, unused for a decade, will be demolished to make way for 52 new affordable homes and a community center in Eastpointe.

Deerfield Elementary School, unused for a decade, will be demolished to make way for 52 new affordable homes and a community center in Eastpointe.

Photo by Patricia O'Blenes


Eastpointe breaks ground on 52 new affordable homes

By: Brendan Losinski | Roseville - Eastpointe Eastsider | Published July 17, 2020

 Officials hold a groundbreaking for the Erin Park development July 15.

Officials hold a groundbreaking for the Erin Park development July 15.

Photo by Patricia O’Blenes

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EASTPOINTE — The city of Eastpointe and the Community Housing Network hosted a groundbreaking for a new development of 52 affordable homes July 15.

Known as Erin Park, the groundbreaking was held on-site, although the public could only view it virtually on the Facebook page of the Eastpointe-Roseville Chamber of Commerce due to health concerns.

“It’s an important day for Eastpointe because we’re bringing in new development,” remarked Eastpointe Mayor Monique Owens. “Even during a tragic pandemic, we’re still able to be building, recovering and moving forward. It shows how strong Eastpointe is.”

The development is due to be completed in September 2021 and is being constructed by the Community Housing Network, an organization that provides housing and housing resources. The new site will consist of 26 duplex-style homes as well as a community center that will be accessible for everyone in the development as well as the surrounding neighborhoods.

The homes will be available to individuals and families who make between 30% and 80% of Macomb County’s area median income. Applications for the rent-to-own housing will be available this fall. Find more information at www.community housingnetwork.org/erin-park-east pointe.

“The duplex-style homes will give people a way to build community and give residents in the development a way to become integrated with the surrounding neighborhood,” explained Kirsten Elliott, vice president of development for the Community Housing Network. “We’re building a large community center, which will be almost 2,500 square feet of space with additional outdoor space and green space. We don’t want people just living here and not knowing their neighbors; we want to build community.”

The development is located on Deerfield Avenue, near the intersection of Stephens Drive and Gratiot Avenue, on the former grounds of Deerfield Elementary, an Eastpointe Community Schools elementary school that has been unused for the last 10 years.

Macomb County Executive Mark Hackel was present at the groundbreaking and said that turning the former site of a school into new homes and a new community center is a meaningful step for the community.

“When you think about schools back when I was a kid, the school was the center of the neighborhood,” he said. “It was the community area for the neighborhood. Many communities, especially in the southern part of the county, are finding that with growth and fewer kids being born, there is less need for these elementary schools and they are being closed down.”

Hackel cited the county’s slogan, “make Macomb your home,” when talking about the new development and said that expansion like this is what he has been hoping for in the county since taking office.

“Some (schools) have been sold and some have just been demolished,” he said. “It’s kind of sad in a way, but seeing what they’re doing here in Eastpointe is encouraging. All of a sudden, a school that has not been used and has been sitting vacant for some time is allowing them to put in affordable housing and put in a community center. It brings back that vibrancy and vitality to this neighborhood. People will be getting new neighbors. It brings about a greater sense of community. It’s exciting.”

This is the second project the city of Eastpointe has worked on with the Community Housing Network.

“We previously worked with the Community Housing Network when they did the Grafton Townhomes (on Nine Mile Road),” said Owens. “They went in, in 2015, and provided 48 homes for people. Besides them, we have been fixing up many homes in Eastpointe, usually taking tax reversion homes and fixing them up so they can be resold and go to new families.”

“We started our relationship with Eastpointe about nine or 10 years ago when we were looking at doing some development at some old church sites the Detroit Archdiocese was selling,” added Elliott. “We met with the city to talk about their needs and they said that they had this other site over on Nine Mile (Road), so we started coordinating with them on the development of the Grafton Townhomes. Once we finished that, they said they had some other sites, so we started looking at them.”

Elliott went on to say that the location of the Deerfield School was a perfect site for the project; however, it required taking a new approach compared to their previous Eastpointe project.

“We felt the way the site was configured and the fact that it was a neighborhood school meant we needed a different configuration than the Grafton Townhomes,” she said. “So we worked with the city and held an open meeting to get feedback from those living in the area to see what would fit best in this location, and that’s where the concept of the duplex-style homes came about. … It’s in the center of a neighborhood, it’s nearby many local amenities and it’s a walkable neighborhood.”

Elliott said that the community center that will be built as part of the development is something she is particularly proud of including.

“The community center will provide plenty of on-site activities and classes. We have a partnership with the YMCA of Metro Detroit, who we partner with at all of our developments, where they offer after-school programs, summer camps and other programming like parenting classes,” she said. “We also work with MyCare Health Centers, which are federally qualified health centers, and they will be providing on-site services for residents. We have a full-time community engagement coordinator whose job it is to connect the community members and engage with them and create what kind of programs they want. Over at Grafton, for instance, the residents wanted a community garden, so they worked together to put one in.”

Bus service also will be provided for those with ambulatory issues so residents can go to local sites such as grocery stores or places of worship.

Owens said the fact that the new homes will be offered as affordable housing to low- or moderate-income level families is something she is thrilled about.

“To be able to provide new housing for families is very important,” she said. “I came from a single family home in Detroit, and it was always hard for my mom to find somewhere for us to stay due to her income. To be able to create something in which families can not only stay, but buy and own themselves is important to me.”

She said providing affordable but quality housing has been a goal of Eastpointe during the last several years and a personal goal of hers as mayor.

“I want to see more big projects,” said Owens. “I know we are working with the (Eastpointe Downtown Development Authority) to bring more homes to that area and we are looking at having more apartments in the city as well. I want families and developers to see this development and see how successful it is so we can do more projects like this.”

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