Week-long event series aims to promote community conversation about housing in Ann Arbor

House Party, a week-long set of events about housing in Ann Arbor, will take place Sept. 12-17.
The festival is organized by the nonprofit Do Good Work. Executive Director Lisa Sauvé says House Party is intended "to bring people together in a fun but communal way to talk through some of the problems we think we have and [to] understand the trade-offs."
All events are free and open to the public. Park(ing) Day, which will take place on Sept. 15, coincides with a national movement in which parking spaces are repurposed as parks or social spaces.
"We're using Park(ing) Day as a way to get out into the street and take over street parking spaces and occupy them for more people-friendly spaces," Sauvé says. "The overall commentary for that one is, instead of creating storage for cars, how do we use city space for people?"
Sauvé adds that two parking spaces are the equivalent size of a micro-unit apartment.  
For another event, planned in collaboration with the Ann Arbor District Library, Sauvé says organizers are "setting up a phone booth at the downtown [library] branch and setting up time slots to come in and record your housing story." 
According to Sauvé, those stories can take any form. They may be about struggling to find housing, or about a stroke of luck in a housing search. Either way, she says, "the library is going to permanently archive them as a point in time."
Sauvé is hopeful that House Party "will bring more people into the discussion [about housing] that are typically not part of it."
As a member of Ann Arbor's Planning Commission, she's already familiar with the formal conversations that take place month after month.
"This is a way outside of that very formal, public process to be able to engage and discuss those sorts of things," she says.
Sauvé adds that this month's Planning Commission working session and Housing and Human Services Advisory Board meeting have been added to the House Party calendar, "to invite people who may not have been aware or understand what happens at those meetings to try out attending one."

Natalia Holtzman is a freelance writer based in Ann Arbor. Her work has appeared in publications such as the Minneapolis Star Tribune, the Los Angeles Review of Books, Literary Hub, The Millions, and others.
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