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Lansing continues enforcement of red-tagged housing

An image of a red tag affixed to a unit at Autumn Ridge Townhomes and Apartments.
Rosalyn Williams
An image of a red tag from last year that was posted on a unit at Autumn Ridge Townhomes and Apartments

Officials in Lansing say they’re making progress in addressing unsafe conditions in the city’s housing stock.

As of April 1, Lansing has nearly 800 housing units with red tags, according to reports from the Department of Economic Planning and Development. That means the units have been unlicensed to rent for an extended period of time or have been deemed unsafe to live in by the city.

If property owners aren’t making repairs on buildings with structural issues, officials can go through the Lansing City Council to get permission to demolish them.

Rawley Van Fossen, who leads the economic and planning department as its director, said he wants to work with homeowners struggling to bring their properties up to code. He said the city's priority is to understand that "every red tag is going to be unique and have a different story."

“It's less of an issue that we have bad actors in our community just letting properties go to rot," Van Fossen said. "We have some of that, like any community, but it's more of a poverty issue."

Van Fossen added his department has a number of staff openings that he'd like to fill by hiring more inspection and code enforcement officers. He said the vacancies limit the city's ability to monitor housing conditions.

“The nature of not having all those positions filled puts added stress on the staff we have and in the department as a whole, meaning we are working to cover the insane footprint of the city just with (fewer) folks," he said.

Arjun Thakkar is WKAR's politics and civics reporter.
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