EAST TAWAS – Interim Executive Director Douglas Fleming of the East Tawas Housing Commission (ETHC) addressed the East Tawas City Council at its electronic meeting on Sept. 8, where he highlighted the advantages of the proposed conversion of the Bay Park Towers facility from Public Housing to Section 8 funding. 

According to Fleming, the two facilities run by the Housing Commission are similar, but differ from a HUD (Department of Housing and Urban Development) perspective, operating under different HUD programs.

Fleming noted that the Bay Park Tower North already operates under Section 8, while the South Tower operates under HUD’s Public Housing (Section 9) program, which he said makes management of the two facilities “unnecessarily complex.”

A HUD initiative used to transition from public housing to Section 8, known as Rental Assistance Demonstration (RAD), in a PowerPoint presentation shown by Fleming, offers specific benefits including stabilized HUD funding, long-term sustainability, keeping resident rents at 30 percent, and providing access to new sources of funds for improvements.

Fleming offered several reasons to convert the South Tower through RAD. He said HUD strongly recommends that agencies go through this conversion, operations would be streamlined, financial benefits would be enhanced, and building improvements could be made through a combination of RAD and Low Income Housing Tax Credits (LIHTC) administered through the Michigan State Housing Development Authority (MSHDA).

Fleming added that a preliminary MSHDA score has been estimated indicating that the ETHC has “a reasonable chance of earning a 9 percent LIHTC award, which would allow for “significant improvements” to be made to the facilities.

The next steps, according to Fleming, are:

• Confirm ETHC’s strategic plan to pursue RAD conversion while applying for MSHDA’s LIHTC and launch a co-developer Request For Proposal (RFP).

• Select a development partner and develop in-depth financial analysis for the strategic options;

• Develop and share plans with HUD, MSHDA, and the City of East Tawas; and

• Begin the execution of a detailed project plan.

A detailed project plan must be developed “to set expectations,” Fleming said, adding that “this is a one- to two-year journey.”

At the same meeting, East Tawas City Manager Brent Barringer announced plans to reopen the gym on Sept. 14 “in a limited capacity.” Based on executive orders from Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, face masks will be required, and capacity will be regulated, Barringer said.

Barringer reported that the Michigan Department of Natural Resources has expanded the number of antlerless deer permits for the City from 15 to 30 this year. He said that the city plans to utilize 15 permits during the early season on Sept. 19-20 and the additional permits for the remainder of the season.

ETHC Resident Member Dolores Davis submitted her resignation from the Housing Commission, citing health reasons. Barringer said that a request has been received from another resident, Todd Ronan, to fill that vacancy.

In light of the Weiss Evaluation report on the Tawas Police Authority (TPA) which recommended consideration of three models of service, Barringer requested guidance from the Council. Mayor Bruce Bolen formed a committee consisting of Barringer, Mayor Bolen, Councilwoman Lisa Bolen, and East Tawas Fire Chief Bill Deckett to evaluate the options of:

1. Maintaining the current structure of the TPA

2. Entering into a contract with the Iosco County Sheriff’s Dept. to provide policing services, or

3. Establishing a public safety model.

The committee will report their findings to the council at a future meeting.