The Low-Rent Trap

Tenants of the Detroit Housing Commission live in some of the only housing in the city guaranteed to be affordable. But properties owned by the authority keep failing inspections and homes and complexes across the city are falling apart

A view of the Diggs Homes, a Detroit Housing Commission property that failed its last three inspections. Photo credit: Nick Hagen

Outlier Media is taking a closer look at the city’s largest provider of affordable housing: The Detroit Housing Commission. Through a series of articles, we examine whether the authority is providing safe and affordable housing at properties it owns, how it manages its housing voucher program and if it’s accessible to the public. 

Read the series

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

Part 5

Part 6

Part 7

How It Started

Detroit Housing Commission (DHC) by the numbers

  • Nearly 10,000 Detroit households rent in units owned by the DHC or have vouchers it supplies
  • The DHC owns about 25% of the city’s regulated affordable housing stock
  • The DHC has an ownership stake in 42 different developments, including 207 single-family homes
  • 80,000 people (more than 12% of the city’s population) are on waitlists across all DHC properties
  • 750 of the DHC’s 3,409 units (nearly 22%) are vacant
  • 4,200 people are on the Section 8 waitlist with an expected wait time of two to five years 
  • Six DHC properties received failing scores when inspections were last conducted for HUD in 2019