A Howell-based nonprofit seized the opportunity to transform run-down motels into affordable housing for needy residents.
Community Catalysts Development Co. recently purchased the west portion of the former Crest Motel at 4495 W. Grand River Avenue, about three miles west of downtown Howell Township.
Construction crews have begun a major renovation to transform the over 5,000-square-foot building into an extended-stay motel called Bethel Suites.
“The people we serve will be a diverse group of people,” said Eileen Zilch, who founded the development group’s pro-nonprofit Community Catalysts a few years ago to make livingston county affordable. increase the choice of affordable and transitional housing in
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“People in the community are looking for a clean and safe place to stay for a week, a month or several months. We are waiting for it to be possible,” Zilch said.
Units are expected to be $35 per night for motel style units with kitchenettes and about $60 per night for apartment style units with full kitchens and multiple rooms. Bethel Suites also features efficient apartment-style units at mid-range prices.
Zilch said other housing assistance organizations are placing people in temporary and emergency housing at other local facilities by negotiating discounted rates.
She said the Auckland Livingston Human Services Agency is typically the primary point of contact for those needing housing assistance. Agencies negotiate rates for temporary housing, and local nonprofits that place people in housing usually match.
“Organizations are now housing people in other local facilities that they’re not excited about,” she said. will be better and newer.”
She said she will work with other local organizations that serve people with housing needs to place people in the facility. It is used as a meeting room where you can meet with staying clients.
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Community Catalysts is putting about $1.5 million into renovations. This includes converting the garage into living space, increasing living space from 11 furnished units to 14.
“We want it to be comfortable, safe, light and bright so people feel good, encouraged and get the rest and rejuvenation they need to tackle the challenges they have to overcome.” You can do that,” says Zilch.
Loans, donations collected from the community, and an ongoing fundraising campaign will fund the transformation project.
Participating professionals offer contracting, architectural, legal and other services for free or at reduced rates.
difficult to get
Affordable housing options are limited in Livingston County, said Becky Phelps, a local developer who is now chairman of the board of Community Catalyst.
“We are a very wealthy community, but there are so many unmet needs that people don’t know until they have children who are leaving because of the employees who work here and have to travel by bus. I’m trying to secure a place to live,” Phelps said.
“We try to do it at a high quality level. We are not trying to cut corners to serve people. We want them to have the highest quality, dignity, call it home, home We try to provide a place where you feel like you are in.”
Zilch expects many of the facility’s guests to be actively employed adults who don’t earn enough to easily save for the initial costs, such as security deposits, associated with a new apartment or home. said.
For some, Bethel Suites is like “bridge housing.”
“It buys us time to look for a house,” said Zilch. “People have very few housing options and have to wait for something to become available.”
Livingston County residents who earn more than $50,000 a year may struggle to make ends meet due to the high cost of living in the county and the lack of housing options, she noted.
Joe Douss, Howell Township Zoning Manager, said he was looking forward to the motel’s renovation given how dilapidated it had been over the years.
“It’s certainly nice to see it cleaned up and used for something,” Dows said.
The Crest Motel has been in operation for decades, but has faced multiple tax forfeitures and was seized in 2018.
Douss said he remembers residents having to move out.
One unit was in use after the foreclosure, but Zilch said it no longer operates as a motel.
“But the owner allowed people in really dire circumstances who didn’t mind the dilapidated condition,” she said.
Party Scheduled for September
Community Catalysts will host a Motel Party open house event September 23-24 from 4:00 pm to 7:00 pm.
Attendees will have the opportunity to see the progress of renovations and learn about the organization’s vision for motels.
The event includes tours, snacks and drinks, and information about their mission.
Please contact Livingston Daily reporter Jennifer Eberbach at [email protected].