City proposes raising senior center's rent by 9000 percent - WNEM TV 5

City proposes raising senior center's rent by 9000 percent

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(Source: WNEM) (Source: WNEM)

A non-profit senior center faces an uncertain future because its landlord wants to raise rent by 9,000 percent.

The landlord is the city, which charges a dollar a year. It said it needs to recover some of its maintenance costs, but the increase could put a real pinch on the center.

"It's something for the seniors to get out of the house, have activities and stuff to do, move around," said Percy Knapp, president of the Hesselbridge Board of Directors.

Knapp said the center could be in jeopardy after the city decided to change the rent from $1 to $9,000 a year.

"That dollar a year will help keep our programs going. Cause all the money we get is allocated to our programs and serving the seniors. This would be a stab in the heart," Knapp said.

He said the center offers entertainment, food and exercise to the aging community in Flint at no cost.

The Hesselbridge Senior Community Center has been around since 1987 and the board members said at least 100 seniors visit the center each day.

The city said the dollar a year lease agreement is no longer feasible and was put into place during a different time under different management.

"The emergency manager established some agreements that don't work for the city of Flint. In addition to that, the city has to continue to have partnership groups that are mutually beneficial. We cannot continue to pay the bills for every non-profit in this community," City Administrator Sylvester Jones said.

Jones prospered a new lease agreement hoping to charge the center $750 a month with the non-profit taking care of the day to day expenses like electricity and snow removal. Jones said the center receives $113,000 annually for funding and believes it is more than fair.

"We're asking them, saying hey, this is something that is supposed to work for the city of Flint and as well as the non-profit. We are asking for terms that will not continue to take dollars away from the city in other areas," Jones said.

The city said they will continue to negotiate with the senior center board.

As for Knapp, he said he doesn't want the center to be put at risk of closing its doors because of financial reasons.

"Everybody enjoys themselves coming up here. It would be something. Quite a lot of people come through here. That would be a lot of people wiped out of the programs and stuff," Knapp said.

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