Oak Park's new affordable housing project robbed of $80K in air conditioning units

Ground breaking of Coolidge Place in Oak Park in 2019 (Lighthouse)

An Oakland County nonprofit is pushing forward with the grand opening of its new affordable housing project, despite the theft of several newly installed air conditioning units.

Lighthouse, a group that provides shelter to cheap living options for low-income residents in Oakland County, had planned on opening a fully furnished apartment complex in Oak Park that had 64 units available for families hit hard by a shortage in affordable housing.

The ribbon ceremony will go on as planned on Wednesday, the group said. But 22 of the units will be without air conditioning.

The $15 million housing project is located on Coolidge Highway just north of Eight Mile in Oak Park. The groundbreaking is the latest effort in Metro Detroit to allocate housing for families struggling to find a cheap enough place to live. 

In previous interviews about the project, Lighthouse CEO Ryan Hertz said the project was an example of what can happen when a city and charitable endeavors partner together. 

"It is extremely difficult for low-income families to climb out of poverty when housing costs consume most of their income," Hertz said in a release.  "We hope Coolidge Place paves the way for more developments that help level the playing field in terms of equitable access to lower-cost, high-quality housing because everyone deserves a place to call home."

Even as the high cost of living remains high, the price of transportation, food, education, health care, and other expenses hasn't dropped. Meanwhile, sagging wages means fewer jobs for parents that can help them provide for their children. 

Lighthouse is working to replace all the stolen air conditioners in the coming weeks at a cost of $80,000.

Lighthouse is working to replace all the stolen air conditioners in the coming weeks at a cost of $80,000. (Southwest Solutions)

Affordable housing projects like Coolidge Place can help ease the burden of housing. Construction on the housing project began in July of 2019 and construction was expected to be completed in late 2020.

A quarter of the rental units will be for residents with special needs. The rent will range between $454 and $989 a month for one to three-bedroom units. Residents that qualify for the units will need to be at or below 60% of the area median income. 

The group's grand opening is scheduled for Wednesday morning. But the unveiling will be accompanied by $80,000 in losses of stolen air conditioning units.

Currently, an investigation has been opened into the thefts but police do not have any suspects, a release from Lighthouse said. 

The timing could not be worse for a summer that's known all too well the struggles of brutal humidity and extreme heat.