When Doug Fleming was appointed as executive director of the Lansing Housing Commission nearly five years ago, the public housing authority was classified as a “troubled agency” by the federal government. Within the first six months, Fleming and his team turned the commission around and raised that designation.
“This was our first big achievement,” said Fleming. “But we knew there were more issues to tackle.”
His next big project for the agency, which is a quasi- governmental body that governs aspects of housing in the Lansing area and often provides low rent or free apartments to qualified residents, was to update existing infrastructure of buildings that the Lansing Housing Commission oversees.
Changing the designation of the properties under the U.S. Housing Act and partnering with the Michigan State Housing Development Authority and other agencies allowed the Lansing Housing Commission to invest $60 million into the renovation of 580 units in Lansing. The renovations included new security for all the facilities, new flooring, paint, appliances, central air conditioning and more.
“These buildings had almost 50-year-old infrastructure and needed to be brought up to current standards,” said Fleming. “Currently we’ve completed two of the projects, with the other two in the final stages. We want our residents to feel proud of their homes.”
All the units have now been brought up to Uniform Federal Accessibility Standards, meaning that they meet the government’s requirements for people of all ages and abilities — things such as light switches placed at the correct height, enough room for a wheelchair to turn around in the bathroom and grab bars for stability.
“A normal housing commission may have taken up to 10 years to complete the renovation of all four of these properties,” said Fleming. “But we felt strongly that this needed to be done quickly because of the age of our buildings and the need in the community. My team has worked hard to bring this together to finish this in the five-year period that I’ve been here.”