Southfield ranked No. 8 for affordable housing in Michigan

By: Kayla Dimick | Southfield Sun | Published February 27, 2019

 Rita Scott-Banks shows off her new doorwall in her 10th-floor apartment at McDonnell Towers in 2016.

Rita Scott-Banks shows off her new doorwall in her 10th-floor apartment at McDonnell Towers in 2016.

File photo by Deb Jacques


SOUTHFIELD — If affordable housing is what you seek, Southfield is the place to be, according to a recent study.

The study, created by, ranked Southfield as the No. 8 city in Michigan with the most affordable housing. Flint was ranked No.1.

Mayor Ken Siver said he believes many factors play into Southfield’s affordability ranking, including the Southfield Nonprofit Housing Corporation.

In response to the recent housing crisis, a partnership between the Southfield City Council, the Southfield Nonprofit Housing Corporation — of which Siver is the board president — and Habitat for Humanity was formed to create the Southfield Neighborhood Revitalization Initiative.

Under this initiative, Siver said previously, the City Council exercises “first right of refusal” on Oakland County tax-foreclosed properties and transfers the title to the Southfield Neighborhood Revitalization Initiative.

The Southfield Neighborhood Revitalization Initiative is funded completely by the nonprofit housing board, Siver said. No tax dollars are being used on the program.

In 2016, a $19.8 million makeover was finished on two Southfield senior housing developments, compliments of a Michigan State Housing Development Authority tax credit.

The renovations were made at McDonnell Tower Apartments and River Park Place, 24400 and 24300 Civic Center Drive, respectively.

McDonnell Tower Apartments is an 11-story apartment building with 162 units for seniors 62 and older, as well as subsidized apartments and assisted living units. The River Park Place Apartment complex offers 245 subsidized rental housing units, including 182 units for seniors 62 and older, and an additional eight family townhomes.

“We have a major initiative with rehabbing houses that have fallen into foreclosure, and with a number of these houses, we’ve partnered with Habitat for Humanity,” Siver said. “We’ve also rehabbed 508 units of low-income senior housing, and that’s another factor in this. We’ve continued to partner with Rebuilding Together Oakland County to rehabilitate homes that are privately owned, but ... folks that are struggling to maintain their property.”

Siver said the home sizes and styles in Southfield have also contributed to the city’s affordability ranking.

“We have a number of people who are in single-family homes that want to stay in Southfield, and this is something I hear all the time. They want something that is affordable and they just want to downsize, but we also have plans coming to build market rate housing,” Siver said. “For a strong community, I think you need a mix of both.”

Realtor Perrin T. Emanuel, with Reach Realty Group in Southfield, said the “Center of it All” is pretty ideal for housing.

“A lot of people are downsizing from colonials and tri-level homes, wanting something that is all on one level,” Emanuel said. “You’ve got a couple things going for you here. You’re in close proximity to Detroit, you can have a little bit of land, and a lot of these homes meet the needs of folks of the aging population.”

Emanuel said he often sees more square footage for less money in Southfield.

“The last few houses I sold recently in Southfield have been ranch-style homes,” he said. “There was a fully refurbished 21,000-square-foot ranch-style home that’s been sold for just under $200,000,” he said.

Siver said that is nothing new in Southfield.

“I have met people, including in my own neighborhood in Magnolia, that have said, ‘You know, we looked at Ferndale, we looked at Royal Oak, and we just found out we got a lot more house for our money,” Siver said. “That’s not anything new. In 1972, I bought my home that I’m still in in Southfield, and it was a lot of house for less money, so it was true 50 years ago, and it’s still true.”, according to its website, is a real estate resource for both consumers and researchers that compiles reports for over 29,000 cities across the U.S. using census data.

For the Cities in Michigan with the Most Affordable Homes list, used the most recent census data for cities with a populations of at least 60,000. Researchers then determined the rankings based on a city’s median house price and median gross household income.

Lower values of the “median multiple” equate to more affordable housing. A score of 3 or under was considered affordable.

According to the study, the state median multiple is 2.8, which is lower than the national median multiple of 3.6. Southfield’s score was 2.7, rising from last year’s No. 12 spot and score of 3.0.