Housing Nonprofit Retires Quietly after a Lifetime of Good Work

May 16, 2018; Lansing State Journal

In Michigan, the Greater Lansing Housing Coalition (GLHC) will be closing at the end of the year.

The organization, registered with the IRS as the Greater Lansing Non-Profit Housing Corporation in 1971, will be transferring or selling its assets to other organizations as is required by the attorney general. They cite financial difficulties, although the nonprofit had $2 million in assets and $1 million in revenue in 2016. While a brief description can be seen on the local United Way’s website, there does not appear to be a functioning website for GLHC.

Mary Levine, the attorney for GLHC, says that there has been difficulty obtaining a continuous funding stream, a problem that’s hardly rare in the nonprofit sector. Levine, who has served as a board member in the past, says, “You’re always scrambling for enough dollars for program needs.” Such scrambling is not unusual either, but for an organization with property, those who have depended upon you in the past can be hurt if it goes too far. So, unless someone has vision and energy sufficient for a definitive and spirited rebirth, you put your affairs in order.

GLHC, which was founded to provide affordable housing and revitalize neighborhoods, has built or renovated 125 single-family homes and then sold them to first-time homebuyers who have limited incomes but earn enough to support themselves.

Nonprofit federal and state regulations, through their attorney’s general office, guide the closure of an organization and the transfer of properties so they remain as close as possible to the parameters of the original mission statement. The people in GLHC housing will not be displaced, and the management company of the properties will remain the same, according to Levine.

GLHC also owns the Neighborhood Empowerment Center. The building, which houses the Head Start and the Mid-Michigan Guardianships Services, will transfer remain intact and will be transferred to a new owner, along with some programming such as DIY-HERO. GLHC currently has two full-time employees, as well as three part-time staff.

Although the services should be covered by other organizations, such as the existing Lansing Habitat for Humanity, there is a concern that there is now one less affordable housing participant. Ingham Country’s treasurer and chair of the county land bank, Eric Schertzing, says the connections of GLHC will be lost. “When the next downturn hits, it means we’re going to have one less community-based organization with their ear to the ground hearing what the problems and challenges are that people need help addressing.”

Even with the closing, it is not like the need has vanished, so we expect that other organizations will step in to provide a place for the community to organize for affordable housing—because, after all, that is the point.—Marian Conway