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Metawanenee Hills Neighborhood Project
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Metawanenee Hills Neighborhood Project

During the past several years, Salem Housing CDC has embarked on a community development project that is changing the urban landscape of our core service area. Using MSHDA Low Income Housing Tax Credits, 24 units of affordable rental housing were built between M.L. King Avenue and Garland Street at Wood Street. The project, consisting of single family homes and duplexes, complements the neighborhood surrounding the project. The Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC) and the Genesee County Land Bank Authority were essential partners in the first phase of the development. The development is creating an attractive gateway to the Kings/Wood/Metawanenee Hills neighborhood. The units are superior to most other rental housing options found in the Flint market with one- and two- story homes with garages, private porches and yards. Interior amenities include two-, three- or four- bedrooms, two and a half baths and full kitchens. Currently all units are filled. To be placed on a waiting list contact call Louise Johnston at (810) 785-5340, ext. 21 or email

The Art of Community Building More than Bricks and Mortar

Revitalizing a community. In 1995, we used the words "without a community plan, we will be without direction" and began the work of creating a community-wide plan that we called the North Flint 21st Centuries Comprehensive Community Plan. About 140 residents, church members and business people chose to focus on the assets of our community as Salem Housing CDC planned for its future and launched the plan in 1997. It addressed nearly every aspect of community life but key for Salem Housing CDC's work were two goals; focused work and developing new 'in-fill' housing.

That sounds pretty simple and direct…and perhaps it would have been if Salem Housing CDC believed re-development was not just buildings but board, staff and community.

"Development means to work out by degrees, to evolve….and Community Development is just that with the people, the houses, the churches, the community organizations, the businesses…all the parts of a community that evolve into stronger community for all. It requires vision, and a spark, and a reality check with all of the folks involved…and then working a step at a time."
- Raymond Hatter, Executive Director, 1999

Salem Housing CDC began the process one step at a time. First, was to define an area. The area must have City of Flint investment into the area to be viable and must have larger community commitment. Also essential was whether Michigan State Housing Development Authority considered this a feasible area and whether Local Initiatives Support Corporation could become a technical consultant. Second was to determine the resources within the defined area of approximately 16 blocks including strong people who were committed to their neighborhood and who would help to shape a stronger community. Michigan State Housing Development Authority had a program called Neighborhood Preservation Projects that offered dollars for construction, planning and infrastructure changes.

In 2000, the KingsWood Neighborhood was designated as a MSHDA Neighborhood Preservation Plan area and competed for dollars to start the work. In 2001, a grant of $500,000 was awarded to this area bounded by M.L. King, Grand Traverse, Welch and Wood and the investment of time and work by neighbors in this area began. Ninety-five small grants were secured, a plan for houses and parks was launched, 1,500 sidewalk squares replaced, 45 vacant lots cleared, three houses gutted and restored at key entry points at Garland and Welch, 19 homeowners invested $215,894 of Federal Home Loan Bank dollars (with matching dollars from the Ruth Mott Foundation) for major exterior repairs and blight was targeted and removed.

The vacant land needed care and management as a green space until new development was possible. Flint Urban Gardens partnered with Salem Housing CDC to design a land bank (before Genesee County's), the Ruth Mott Foundation funded it, and basements were pulled out, burned houses removed and the soil tilled and planted with "healing" grasses and flowers.

Low Income Housing Tax Credits were awarded, and the Community Advisory Committee chose an architect who respected the detail in the homes in the neighborhood.- The members of the Metawanenee Hills Neighborhood Association "watched over" each step and began the process of "growing" their neighborhood with a new stable rental community.

In November 2006, ground was broken and family after family called because they wanted and needed affordable energy efficient new homes and more than 250 applied. Today, the waiting list continues to grow. Twenty-four families are part of a new neighborhood within a neighborhood.

© 2011 Salem Housing
Community Development Corporation