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WCC grads can’t live in Washtenaw County

Recently, I was looking at Washtenaw County data from the US Census Bureau’s 2022 American Community Survey. One of the data points that the survey captured was household income. Looking at income data for Washtenaw County is important because it provides a benchmark for the earnings that people need to live here.

Among all of the municipalities in Washtenaw County, the City of Ypsilanti has the lowest median income at $41,914. The median income is the line at which 50% of households earn more and the other 50% of households earn less. The mean (average) income in the City of Ypsilanti is $60,920.

This is significant because among all of Washtenaw County’s municipalities, residents of the City of Ypsilanti earn the least. That income data shows what it costs to live in the City of Ypsilanti. So, when WCC reports that the average WCC graduate makes $39,000, the school administration is effectively saying that there is no place in Washtenaw County where a WCC graduate can afford to live without either working a second job or living in a two-earner household.


The best that WCC can do is generate ALICE households, which fall disproportionately in the City of Ypsilanti where poverty is already higher than anywhere else in Washtenaw County? Or graduates who need to move elsewhere to live within their means?

That’s simply not right. It is not fair to the residents of Washtenaw County, who will send more than $75M to WCC next month when the summer tax bills arrive. WCC is one of the most generously funded community colleges in the State of Michigan. It receives four separate unrestricted millages, two of which are permanent.

That’s worse than wrong; it is disrespectful.

WCC trustees blind to Washtenaw County income needs

At what point will any of the Trustees demand outcomes that are commensurate with the amount of funding that Washtenaw County taxpayers send to WCC each year? I bet that it has never even occurred to the current Trustees that $39,000 isn’t enough to live on even in Washtenaw County’s poorest city.

That’s likely because none of the WCC Trustees come from Ypsilanti. The closest they ever come to Ypsilanti is when they’re on WCC’s campus. In their minds, it is perfectly acceptable to provide an extremely generous housing allowance to the WCC president on top of her salary while the average WCC graduate can’t even afford housing here. The Trustees are too busy rewarding the poor performance of WCC’s overloaded administration to notice that.

Remember that when your summer tax bills show up next week.

Photo Credit: Monceau , via Flickr