Obama Administration and Detroit Housing Needs

Obama Administration officials are coming to Detroit next week to discuss how to leverage existing federal funds to help the boost the city. This, like all previous meetings, is by invite only. We’re told that community leaders, nonprofit leaders and business leaders will meet with Gov. Snyder, Mayor Bing and dictator Orr.

Nowhere in these meetings has there been an invitation to the real leaders of Detroit — its residents! Detroiters who live day-in and day-out with the consequences of emergency manager dictatorship, corruption, broken city services and meager resources for primary and secondary education have never been invited to provide their input on the changes that should be made here or where federal dollars should be (re)directed.

If they want to know what low-income residents of Detroit want, here’s a partial list:

  • Sell City-owned houses to low-income Detroiters for $50 without delay toward a goal of reducing homelessness. These houses are ready and available now and there is nowhere near enough public housing units or subsidies available for the vast need of low-income residents.
  • Assist these new homeowners with acquiring Community Development Block Grant funds (from HUD) to repair these homes for families and neighborhoods.
  • Provide training funds from non-profit foundations and businesses to low-income Detroiters for construction, plumbing, electrical, roofing and HVAC skills to repair these homes, thereby, creating new job opportunities.
  • Increase SNAP and child care benefits to low-income people in Detroit so that parents can focus on home repair and skills-training work.
  • Purchase plots of land for community organizations and block clubs to establish more community gardens for organic produce and food sustainability education.
  • Distribute much needed funding to the Detroit Department of Transportation so that buses across the City — of which low-income Detroiters desperately rely upon — can increase service and get people to these home rebuilding projects, school and work.

Over 60% of the children in Detroit live in poverty. There’s no better way to raise them out of that than by helping their parents acquire the stability they need in housing. It’s unfathomable and unsustainable for a family to pay over 50% of its limited income toward rent. Yet, everyday thousands of low-income families across Detroit move from apartment to shelter to couch to car to street with no public official blinking an eye about this.

If federal, state and local officials want to be part of the solution for Detroit’s economic crisis, get out of the way and stop being part of the problem!

Photo by MWRO.

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