Axios Detroit

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Today's newsletter is 894 words — a 3.5-minute read. Edited by Everett Cook and copy edited by Cindy Orosco-Wright.

1 big thing: Michiganders paying HOA fees

Estimated number of HOAs, condominiums and cooperatives with fees, 2023
Data: Foundation for Community Association Research; Map: Alice Feng/Axios

With more than 1.4 million Michiganders living in housing associations across the state, many home shoppers are factoring in homeowners association fees as part of their purchase price.

Why it matters: Homebuyers looking at condos or townhomes for their lower prices might not realize HOA dues can run into the thousands annually and can change over time, Axios' Sami Sparber writes.

  • Planning housing communities in Michigan report assessing more than $2.1 billion annually as of 2021, the latest data available.

Between the lines: Prospective buyers will come across HOA fees on many new properties in Brush Park or Corktown. They cover maintenance to keep the community looking nice and, sometimes, amenities like pools and gyms.

Be smart: Condo buyers should pay close attention to the building's age, condition, location and finances, Clare Trapasso with Realtor.com tells Axios.

  • "If they're buying [in] an older building that doesn't have much in its reserve fund to pay for emergencies, and the building floods frequently or the elevator gives out, then each individual condo owner may see their monthly HOA fees go up," says Trapasso, the company's executive news editor.

What's next: If your dues change, the association board should report that in the community newsletter, website, notices or meetings, according to Thomas M. Skiba, CEO of the Community Associations Institute.

  • Condo fees don't typically go down, unless a special assessment — extra fees charged under unforeseen circumstances — ends or the building gets an influx of cash, Trapasso says.

What's more: Higher monthly fees have similarly pushed up the price of renting.

  • Many renters are being hit with charges for trash pickup, pest control and moving, on top of security fees.

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2. First look: New Lyft feature

The prompt that women and nonbinary passengers will receive from Lyft. Photo: Courtesy of Lyft

Rideshare service Lyft's new gender-based feature is now available in Metro Detroit and the rest of the country.

What's happening: Lyft's Women+ Connect is a new option in the app that prioritizes matches between women and nonbinary drivers and riders, the rideshare company announced this morning.

  • It launched in five U.S. cities in September, then expanded to 55 and is now fully rolling out, according to a news release.

Why it matters: Advocacy groups have long questioned the safety of ridesharing services. Recent reports indicate a startling number of violent crimes have occurred during Uber and Lyft rides, according to the New York Times.

How it works: Women and nonbinary drivers can turn on the Women+ Connect feature, which increases the likelihood — but doesn't guarantee — they'll be picking up women or nonbinary riders.

  • Women or nonbinary riders using the app can stay opted-in to the feature, or go to their profile to opt out.
  • How often the matches work depends on driver and rider availability.

Context: The company hopes this will encourage more women and nonbinary people to sign up to drive.

Of note: Riders and drivers can self-identify and update their genders in their profiles.

  • So far, 67% of drivers eligible to use Women+ Connect are doing so, per Lyft.

Go deeper for a statement from Lyft president Kristin Sverchek

3. The Grapevine: You heard it here

Photo illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios; Photo: Raymond Boyd/Getty Images

ğŸŽ“ Michigan's public universities are pushing back on Gov. Gretchen Whitmer's plan to create universal free community college, arguing it would generate revenue losses for the state's four-year institutions. (Crain's)

📉 Southeast Michigan and parts of central Michigan were recently ranked as the metropolitan areas with the nation's highest office vacancy rate. (Detroit News)

🏠 The National Register of Historic Places added a number of Detroit landmarks to its inventory, including Frances Harper Inn, Samuel D. Holcomb School, Vaughn's Book Store and Pittsburgh Plate Glass Company Detroit Warehouse. (Bridge)

🗳️ Former President Trump will hold a campaign rally on Saturday in Waterford Township. (Detroit News)

4. Happy Fat Tuesday, Hamtramck!

Sam eating a paczek in Winfield Park. Photos: Samuel Robinson/Axios

Sam here. Did you guys know I'm Polish?

Why it matters: Today is Fat Tuesday, so naturally I excused myself from healthy choices yesterday for a Polish tradition — paczki (pronounced PONCH-key) from the Family Donut Shop in Hamtramck.

State of play: This is just my second-ever paczek — after eating my first on Fat Tuesday in 2021, I decided it was probably wise to take a break for a while. But it's just as soft and sugary as I remember.

Pazcki donuts from the Family Donut Shop which also houses Taj Alyemen Restaurant. Photo: Samuel Robinson/Axios
A half-dozen pazcki ($15.99) from the Family Donut Shop on Conant, which also houses Taj Al Yemen Restaurant.

The intrigue: I'm told my ancestors come from northern Poland, among many other places — at least according to my mom and genealogy results that claim I'm 22% Eastern European/Russian.

Zoom in: Eater put together this helpful list of local businesses selling paczki this week.

  • Hamtramck, which hosted the 12th annual Paczki Run over the weekend, has become Metro Detroit's hub for the powdered sugar-topped treats, with bakeries opening early to crowds looking for paczki by the box.

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5. Quote du jour: Inside Sheffield's war chest

City Council President Mary Sheffield shown on the big screen at the Pistons-Lakers game on Nov. 23, 2023. Photo: Samuel Robinson/Axios

"I know you want to create a narrative out of everyday, run-of-the-mill campaign donation scenarios, but there is nothing to sensationalize here."

  • "It's unfortunate that politicians who look like me are constantly the target of these inquiries, especially in light of the fact we raise far less money from the same donors who give much more to other officials who actually negotiate and propose development deals."
— City Council President Mary Sheffield in response to questions from the Free Press' M.L. Elrick about her six-figure campaign accounts that have been boosted by Dan Gilbert's PAC as well as billionaire developer Matthew Moroun

Our picks:

🔮 Joe is considering a personal moratorium on sports predictions in this space after taking yet another L with his Super Bowl pick.

🤓 Annalise is eager to read this Citizens Research Council report about Detroit's economic development progress once she has a bit more time.

✌🏼 Sam is also wishing everyone a Happy Black History Month!

🧠 Everett can't believe that 49ers players didn't know the Super Bowl overtime rules — including Harvard grad Kyle Juszczyk.