Preserving Naturally Occurring Affordable Housing in Detroit Capstone Report

Published: 2023

/ Student Work

Preserving Naturally Occurring Affordable Housing in Detroit


In October 2017, the City of Detroit officially announced a plan to construct a 27.5- mile greenway system called the Joe Louis Greenway (JLG). In May 2021, the JLG Framework Plan was published and construction of the JLG recently began in the Midwest and Barton-McFarland communities.1 Although the planned Joe Louis Greenway stands to elevate and connect neighborhoods in Detroit that have experienced historic and systemic disinvestment, including the Oakman Boulevard Community neighborhood, the Greenway may also create pressure on the local housing market. Government initiatives ought to be pursued to preserve the affordability and physical condition of naturally occurring affordable housing (NOAH) in neighborhoods like Oakman. Our graduate student-led team conducted property, neighborhood, and policy research as well as outreach to local stakeholders to develop recommendations for the City of Detroit’s Housing and Revitalization Department (HRD) to preserve and improve forty-five small multi-family NOAH properties in Oakman. Our research guided not only policy and program recommendations, but it also helped us generate a property and neighborhood research methodology that can be replicated in other Detroit neighborhoods along the Joe Louis Greenway. Our research and recommendations aim to aid HRD in mitigating the negative effects that the Greenway may pose to Oakman’s more vulnerable renter residents and small landlords. This study identifies five recommendations to assist in the preservation of NOAH properties in the Oakman Boulevard Community neighborhood, each with strategies for accomplishing the recommendations.


Maya Baker, Melika Belhaj, Anthony Bui, Christian Carroll, David Elam, Alexis Farrell, Maria Garcia Reyna, Tianhong Ge, Nick Hill, Michelle Marin, Yifei Sun


Lan Deng