Resources

By Mary Meldrum
Photos ©2021 Parks & Recreation Staff

LAREINA WHEELER is the Director of Ferndale Parks & Recreation. She is an energetic and enthusiastic leader in the City’s very busy department. There are only four full-time and two part-time people working in the Recreation Department.

WHEELER’S DEPARTMENT IS THE LEAD FOR THE PLANNING, DESIGN AND DEVELOPMENT of the city’s parks. They provide programming for all ages as well as a very robust sports program: Softball, kickball, soccer, baseball and basketball.

The Department also coordinates the city’s special events, such as the Fall Festival, the Fitness Festival, the Daddy-Daughter Dance, and other events that serve the community. The city’s Breakfast With Santa Around The World is a look at how people celebrate Christmas in different countries.

“We typically do a craft class that makes an ornament specific to the country that we are sponsoring that year. We try to do things a little differently,” Wheeler indicates.

Ferndale offers a SMART transportation program that shuttles residents from their homes to a destination within a five-mile radius of Ferndale.

Ferndale has 14 parks, and the Parks & Recreation Department has made major improvements including new play equipment, walking paths, and water fountains. The parks have been very well-maintained. Projects now include new walking paths as well as a pavilion and outdoor fitness equipment. New benches and trash receptacles are part of the improvements too.

Many of the improvements were made possible by a 2015 bond passed by the residents, including the installation of a splash pad. The community is very excited about that.

“This past year, we completed a park project downtown, Schiffer Park. We extended the park, installed custom planter boxes with seating, decorative paving, a drinking fountain and open grassy areas. We formalized and made it an official downtown park. There are custom planter boxes and seating and it is a beautiful asset to downtown.”

“SINCE COVID, WE HAVE REVAMPED A LOT OF THINGS. We offered free meals in conjunction with YMCA, Gleaners and our ongoing Meals On Wheels program. In addition, we worked with several grant partners, such as Project Play, to give out weekly sports kits. We utilized our partnerships to provide a different sport themed kit every week. The kits were sponsored by organizations like the Detroit Pistons and Red Wings. Some of the sport kits included hockey and soccer equipment.”

Wheeler went on, “We continued to have a presence online last year and we served the community the best we could under the circumstances. As we open up again, we are opening up outside. We have soccer starting this spring. Adult and girls’ softball and baseball and kickball will start again too.”

“Our Ferndale Daddy-Daughter Dance is usually held in the Winter. This year we are having a Daddy-Daughter Movie and drive-in. We plan to have some activities at the drive-in. We will have the COVID precautions in place.” There is a drive-in movie scheduled for the other kids on the same day.

The outdoor fitness festival will be in July, an opportunity for the community to come and exercise outdoors. “We collaborate with various gyms and health professionals who offer different fitness classes for youth and adults and provide health tips and information.

“In addition, our largest event is our Ferndale Fall Festival. We plan to still hold that October 2. We want to make sure we are doing everything safely. We always do safety checks. We are very excited about servicing the community, offering a little more this year and allowing the community to get out safely.”

WHEELER SHARES THAT SENIORS HAVE BEEN THE MOST AFFECTED BY THE ISOLATION and COVID. “We look forward to helping them overcome their isolation and get out-and-about.”

In 2019, Ferndale built an award-winning skate park, one of the most utilized parks in the city. You can see all abilities and ages in that park; children from three to four-years-old, all the way up to 55 or 60-years-old.

Wheeler has enjoyed four years as Director. She started in March of 2017. LaReina’s favorite part of the job is serving the community and giving them something they want and will utilize. “Knowing that I am working on something that will be successful. Projects are in line with what the community wants and I am bringing joy to the residents and youth.”

Wheeler says her Department always puts the community and the community’s needs first. “We make sure that we strive to make sure that our efforts are planned in an equitable and inclusive manner so nobody is excluded and everyone feels welcome when they participate. We work very hard. We have a great team and we share the same vision for the residents. We want to continue on our upward trend.”

KAISER SUIDAN NEXT STEP STUDIO & GALLERY: 530 Hilton, check web site for shows and hours. Indoor and outdoor galleries and event space. An emphasis on functional art. www.nextstepstudio.com

LAWRENCE STREET GALLERY: 22620 Woodward, Weds.-Sat. 12:00-5:00 P.M. (Friday till 9:00 P.M.), Sunday 1:00-5:00 P.M. A member-owned gallery that also includes other artists in juried displays. www.lawrencestreetgallery.com

LEVEL ONE BANK COMMUNITY ARTS GALLERY: 22635 Woodward, Mon.-Fri. 9:00-5:00 P.M. (Friday till 6:00 P.M.). Curated by gallerist and framing guru Mark Burton. Specializes in solo and themed shows.

M CONTEMPORARY GALLERY: 205 East Nine Mile, Weds.–Sat. 1:00-6:00 P.M. (5:00 on Saturday). Special services for collectors both individual and corporate. National presence. www.mcontemporaryart.com

PAUL KOTULA: 23255 Woodward (second floor), Check website for hours. Focused on emerging and mid-career artists. www.paulkotula.com

RUST BELT GALLERY: 22801 Woodward, Hours vary seasonally. A group of creative small businesses, many in arts and design. www.rustbeltmarket.com

SPACE CAT V-STRO: 255 W 9 Mile Rd, 248-268-3211. www.spacecatvstro.com

STATE OF THE ART: 918 W. Nine Mile, Tues.- Fri. 11:00-7:00 P.M., Sat. 11:00-5:00 P.M. Gallery with full service design, printing and framing services. www.stateoftheartonline.net

THE STRATFORD: 138 Stratford, Check Facebook for hours. Gallery and event space near Eight Mile. Facebook: The Stratford Studios Ferndale.

THE WHITEBRICK GALLERY: 150 Livernois, Hours vary. A group of artists providing an opportunity for creative exhibits. www.whitebrickgallery.com

By Rudy Serra

MY NEIGHBORS HAVE STARTED TO BUILD A NEW FENCE. I THINK IT IS ON MY PROPERTY. WHAT SHOULD I KNOW? WHAT SHOULD I DO?

Boundary disputes are not new. There are several different kinds of property line disputes. Whenever there is a disagreement about boundaries, I recommend contacting a qualified attorney.

Real estate transactions that involve a mortgage lender usually include a review of property lines and the issuance of title insurance to protect interests in the land. Where real estate is conveyed directly from one person to another, it is usually important to get professional help. The existence of mortgage is no guarantee against property line disputes.

“Encroachment” occurs when a structure on one property is over the property line, encroaching on the neighboring property. These disputes often involve sheds, fences, landscaping, decks and sometimes larger structures. It is important to act whenever you think someone’s fence or building is on your land. This is “trespassing.” If you do nothing the encroaching property owner can sometimes claim title after 15 years.

All property parcels are defined by a “legal description.” The legal description of a parcel is kept by the County Register of Deeds. These descriptions can be interpreted by a surveyor to determine where the lines of the property are located.

In some cases, even with no wrongdoing, legitimate questions may arise over the line. There could be an error in a past deed, or contradictory or inconsistent deeds may raise questions. Markers placed by past surveyors may create questions.

WHEN ISSUES ARISE ABOUT THE CORRECT PROPERTY LINE, it is always easiest and best to try to resolve the dispute by negotiation. It is essential to remember that no interest in real estate can be conveyed unless it is in writing, Verbal agreements are not enough. If you are able to work out the sale of a piece of a parcel or a trade of land to resolve the dispute, it is essential to put it in writing. All documents that modify boundary lines should be prepared by a competent attorney and filed with the County Clerk/Register of Deeds.

If neighboring property owners are unable to resolve a boundary dispute by negotiation, then a civil lawsuit called “an action to Quiet Title” may be required. A court would determine who owns the property and issue an order into the chain of title. The “chain of title” refers to the recorded documents and deeds in the possession of the Register of Deeds.

Other elements of real estate may be involved in boundary disputes. An “easement” gives a person who is not the owner of land to use the land. Easements are granted to utility companies to install and maintain poles, and easements are used to allow a person to go over a part of someone else’s property to reach their own. Waterfront property may involve additional “riparian rights.” Many zoning ordinances and building codes have a “setback” requirement that requires that other structures or uses be a certain distance from the property line.

SOME BOUNDARY DISPUTES ARE STRAIGHTFORWARD. These can be resolved by obtaining a survey. Others are extremely complicated. All involve real estate and every parcel of real estate is considered unique. If you disagree with your neighbor about your respective property lines, get a qualified real estate attorney.

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By Lisa Howard

Finding affordable housing can be tricky, especially in the wake of a global pandemic that has negatively impacted many people’s jobs. Fortunately, if you’re looking to rent or buy a home but need to keep a close eye on your wallet, various organizations in the city, county, state and federal levels may be able to help you find a home that suits your budget.

THE COMMUNITY HOUSING NETWORK, BASED IN TROY, is a nonprofit organization providing housing and housing resources for people who are homeless or facing homelessness, people with disabilities or low income, and other vulnerable residents of southeast Michigan. They offer a long list of services, including a Housing Resource Center, homebuyer and home ownership educational seminars, financial empowerment webinars, and foreclosure prevention counseling. In addition, their Home Ownership Program helps low and moderate-income households purchase a quality, affordable home. Call the CHN housing hotline at (248)269-1335 or visit them online at https://communityhousingnetwork.org.

Advantage Oakland covers all of Oakland County and is based in Pontiac. Their Housing Counseling & Homeless Services division offers home repairs, subsidized housing and rental assistance to low- to moderate-income households, and they also can assist homeowners who are having trouble paying their mortgage or property tax stay in their home. New home buyers can learn everything involved in buying a home, and everyone can receive advice and coaching on financial matters. Call (248)858-5402 to meet with an advisor or visit them online here.

The Advantage Oakland Home Improvement Program provides interest-free loans of up to $18,000 to qualified homeowners to make needed home repairs, including installing barrier-free access and energy-saving upgrades. There are no monthly payments and the total loan is due and payable only when you no longer live in your home. This program can be tremendously helpful if you’re a homeowner who is struggling to make necessary repairs to be able to stay in your home. Call (248)858-5401 to speak with an advisor or visit them online at https://www.oakgov.com/advantageoakland/communities/Pages/Home-Improvement-Program-and-Contractor-Opportunities-.aspx

• With offices in Lansing and Detroit, the Michigan State Housing Development Authority oversees and administers a variety of rental housing programs, including Housing Choice Vouchers, Project-Based Vouchers and Veterans Administration Supportive Housing (VASH). MSHDA is a Public Housing Agency; other PHAs are operated by individual cities. The Ferndale Housing Commission (http://ferndalehousing.com/) is the PHA for the city of Ferndale.

• Other MSHDA options include programs administered at individual developments that may have received federal or state funding. Visit the Affordable Rental Housing Directory (ARHD) for individual development contact information. ARHD provides a search tool of all of the MSHDA, HUD, Low Income Housing Tax Credit, and Rural Development financed developments in Michigan. Some local Public Housing Agencies have included their rental housing information in this search, too. The Michigan Housing Locator provides a search tool for both subsidized and market rental housing in Michigan.

Affordable Rental Housing Directory: https://housing.state.mi.us/

Michigan Housing Locator: http://www.michiganhousinglocator.com/Portals/mshda/

To contact the MSHDA, call (517) 335-9885 or (313) 4563540 or visit them online at www.michigan.gov/mshda.

• On a federal level, the U.S. Department of Housing (HUD) helps low-income families, elderly people, and individuals with disabilities find affordable housing. Your local public housing agency (PHA) decides if you are eligible for a Housing Choice Voucher based on:

• Your annual gross income.

• Whether you qualify as a family, a senior, or a person with a disability.

• U.S. citizenship or eligible immigration status.

• Your family’s size.

In general, your family’s income may not exceed 50 percent of the median income for the county or metropolitan area. Since the demand for public housing is often larger than the amount of housing available to HUD and the local PHA, long waiting periods are common. A PHA may close its waiting list when there are more families on the list than can be assisted in the near future.

The three main types of affordable rental housing supported by HUD are:

• Privately owned, subsidized housing in which landlords are paid by the government to offer reduced rents to low-income tenants. Recipients search for the apartment and apply directly at the rental management office.

• Public housing, which provides affordable rental houses or apartments for low-income families, people who are elderly, and people with disabilities. To apply, contact a PHA in Michigan.

• The Housing Choice Voucher Program (formerly Section 8) involves renters finding a rental property themselves and then using the voucher to pay for all or part of the rent. To apply, contact a PHA in Michigan.

Veterans Administration Supportive Housing (VASH) provides assistance to homeless Veterans by combining Housing Choice Voucher rental assistance with case management and clinical services provided by the Department of Veterans Affairs. The Shallow Subsidy initiative provides low-income Veterans a fixed rental subsidy for up to two years. The Subsidy is available to veterans who are enrolled in the Supportive Services for Veteran Families (SSVF) program and live in communities characterized by high rates of homelessness and low availability of affordable housing. To encourage long-term self-sufficiency through employment, renters receive the subsidy for up two years regardless of any increases in their household income.

HUD also offers homes to qualified buyers. The Federal Housing Administration (FHA) — which is part of HUD — insures the loan, so your lender can offer you a better deal. To find out more about HUD homes for sale in Michigan and HUD’s homebuying programs, visit www.hud.gov/states/michigan.

• If you’re looking for a place solo, you might also want to rent a room instead of an entire apartment, or maybe see if a buddy (or two) wants to rent an apartment or a house together. Talking to a financial coach/counselor could also help — they might be able to help you rework your overall budget and wind up with a bit more wiggle room when it comes to paying rent. Keep looking, keep asking for help, and have faith that you will find your home sweet home!