Charter Commission expected to present budget to City Council

Breaking: Detroit City Charter Commission will present their budget to City Council.

We believe The Charter Commission will submit their budget today and possibly present it during Friday’s Executive Sessions. We will keep this page updated. 

Just in from Charter Commissioner Nicole Small: Detroit Charter Commission Budget and Finance Committee will meet April 30, 2020 at 12pm to discuss amending our proposed FY 20-21 budget for City Council’s approval. We will work to appeal to Council not to support Councilman Scott Benson’s proposal to slash our current budget by 70% and replace the Charters independent Counsel with the City’s attorney’s appointed by the Mayor.

Our goal is to consider any potential budget amendments without compromising the work needed to ensure the Citizens have a voice in the revised Charter and that the people will still have access to the revision process. Please join us Thursday, April 30th at 12pm if you have any questions ⬇️

Join with Google Meet meet.google.com/dmp-rugr-vio Join by phone +1 318-814-8301 (PIN: 339959281)

As part of our ongoing monitoring of Detroit City Council and this week’s Executive Sessions we strive to keep our members and supporters aware of important aspect of the Budget Process.

On Monday, Council Member Scott Benson presented proposed revisions to the City Charter Revision Commission’s budget.

Yesterday, Wednesday April 29th, Charter Commission members Carol Weaver, Barbara Wynder and Nicole Small and the Commission’s Corporate Council joined the Executive Session at 10 am.

The Charter Commissioners are expected to return today with their own budget proposal for City Council to discuss and consider.

We at Detroit People’s Platform are concerned about maintaining the separation between the City and the Charter Commission’s mandate to revise the Detroit City Charter.  We do not want the democratic process and the Charter Commissioners  elected by Detroiters undermined with the current COVID-19 crisis used as cover.

We will continue to monitor the City Charter Revision process and Detroit City Council.

“Attend” TODAY’s Detroit City Council Executive Sessions at 10 am and 1 pm on your phone or computer and give public comment

Visit the City Web Page for more details

Detroit City Council will be meeting virtually using a videoconference on Thursday, April 30, 2020 at 10:00 a.m. and 1:00 p.m. for Executive Sessions.

COVID-19 Housing Recommendations

DOWNLOAD AND PRINT: COVID-19 Policy Recommendations- Detroit People’s Platform

Detroit is a 53% majority renter city. The city residents must be protected during the COVID-19 health and economic crisis, and the aftermath. Low and median income Detroit renters and homeowners have been working hard to avoid displacement for years. Citizens have been able to hold onto their rental properties and maintain their homes with hard work and dedication. Now, they face losing their homes despite all their efforts. The money provided in the CARES Act must be thoughtfully distributed to meet urgent needs such as protecting housing for Detroit’s longtime residents who are likely to experience permanent displacement. Detroit People’s Platform(DPP) is offering the following recommendations centered in racial and economic equity with the aim of contributing to the Detroit’s future prosperity. We prioritize the importance of secure and quality housing for our low and median income families in achieving that goal.

HOUSING STABILITY

  • Rent Moratorium: Keep the majority of Detroit’s residents housed and protect and preserve the city’s affordable housing.
    ○  Renters who are cost burdened and/or unemployed or under-employed are not required to pay rent until 90 days after the end of the Michigan State of Emergency Declaration associated with the CODVI -19 pandemic.
    ○  Rent Payments will be issued directly to landlords by the city.
    ○  All tenant past due rent payments, penalties, and late fees for 2020 must be cancelled by the landlord in order to receive rental payments from the city.
  • Rent Payment Extension for 2020: Provide tenants time to recover financially to preserve their homes.
    ○  Tenants will have 6 months after the expiration of the MI State of Emergency Declaration to pay any past due rent, fees, or tenant debt owed to landlords.
    ○  Landlords may issue a written “Notice of Overdue Rent” once rent becomes 30 days past due.
    ○  Tenants and landlords must create a payment plan to outline the amount of past due rent that tenants can realistically repay along with a an agreed upon payment schedule.
    ○  If an eviction is initiated for a tenant that has signed a payment plan, the Tenant/Landlord Payment Plan signed by both parties must be reviewed prior to initiating eviction proceedings.
    ○  If a payment plan cannot be agreed upon, or the payment plan is not adhered to, tenants will retain the 6 month timeframe after the end of the Michigan State of Emergency Declaration to pay past due rents before landlords can begin the eviction process.
  • Housing Affordability: Property owners preserve affordability in rental housing properties in exchange for public financial assistance.
    ○  Rent is frozen at current rates for all tenancies until 120 days after the end of the Michigan State of Emergency Declaration. Rents may not be increased during lease renewals from now until 120 days after the end of the MI State of Emergency Declaration.
    ○  Landlords must maintain rent affordability for a period of 3 years after the Michigan State of Emergency Declaration has ended in order to participate in any city program or receive any funding that is related to the COVID-19 global health pandemic and the Michigan State of Emergency.
    ○  Landlords must agree to annual rent increases not to exceed the Social Security and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) Cost of Living Adjustment, whichever is less.
  • Utility Assistance: Preserve the health and safety of Detroit’s vulnerable residents by preserving Water, Gas, and Electrical services in homes.
    ○  All utilities will be paid for cost burdened renters from now until 90 days after the end of the Michigan State of Emergency Declaration. Cost burdened renters are renters paying 30% or more of their monthly income towards rent each month.
    ○  Utilities include water, electricity, and gas.
    ○  Payments will be made directly to utility companies at a negotiated rate that is lower full billed amount (in exchange for the savings generated by receiving all payments on time).
    ○  All past due utility debts for 2020 must be waived by the utility company.
    ○  Renters will not be assessed any administrative fees related to utility operations (shutoffs/reconnection fees, late fees, etc. until 90 days after the end of the MI State of Emergency).
  • Grants and Loans to Small Landlords for Property Maintenance: Provide landlords financial assistance to maintain their low and median income properties.
    ○  Small Landlords are defined as owning no more than 15 leased units total.
    ○  Provide grant and loan funding to low and median income landlords with rents that are affordable to residents earning 60% AMI or less. This funding must be used to cover the cost of emergency maintenance and to increase the accessibility of rental properties. Availability of grants vs. loan funding should be based on need.
    ○  Provide grant and loan funding for Property Tax Payment Assistance to low and median income landlords. Availability of grants vs. loan funding should be based on need.

COVID-19 ENVIRONMENTAL & HOUSING IMPACTS

  • Local Safe Housing Programs Expanded:
    ○ Funding to expand Bridging Neighborhoods Program to include communities throughout the city impacted by industrial development and operations. Programs will be available to all residents earning 60% AMI and below.
  • Increased Environmental Hazard Monitoring in High Risk Areas:
    ○ Funding to institute state of the art air quality monitoring for communities with poor air quality, high exposure to PM2 , or a history of disparate respiratory health outcomes.

Submitted by: Amina Kirk- Senior Legal & Policy Analyst
Detroit People’s Platform
April 20, 2020

Detroit’s Cash on Hand and Duggan’s Proposed Budget Cuts

The Mayor anticipates that the City will have a $358 Million Budget deficit spread between fiscal years 20 and 21. In order to offset this deficit he has proposed staff reductions, budget cuts, use of the rainy day fund, and re-prioritizing budget spending for next year to create $358 Million in savings. These cuts will have a disproportionate impact on some city workers.

The city’s cash position totals $468.8 Million!

Many city workers will take a 90% pay cut  while the Mayor’s top staff will only take a 5% cut.

Why is a $58 Million cut to city employees being proposed?

Recommendations for the Detroit Department of Transportation in response to the COVID-19 pandemic

Download the Policy Brief: COVID-19 Public Transit Budget Recommendations

April 20, 2020
Background and Summary:

The COVID-19 pandemic and national emergency is an unprecedented public health crisis that had severe impacts on essential bus riders in Detroit. As a result of the State of Michigan emergency executive orders issued by Governor Whitmer, the City of Detroit – Department of Transportation (DDOT) suspended bus fare collection and reduced bus frequency on all routes from 30 – 60 minutes. These decisions have public health, equity, and fiscal considerations that influence the City of Detroit Fiscal Year 2020-2021 budget. The negative impacts on essential riders jeopardizes their individual and family’s ability to maintain an income, severely limits access to essential social services, access to groceries and pharmacies, and increases transportation costs for those who can afford mobility services such as Lyft and Uber. Reduced service, crowding at the bus stops and shelters further endanger public health in Detroit.

The City Council is projected to finalize and pass the Fiscal Year 2020-2021 budget in May 2020, and the Detroit Department of Transportation will continue to receive flat funding from all levels of government at nearly $140 million, including City of Detroit General Fund appropriations for $66,400,000 for FY 2020. According to the Mayor’s COVID-19 Budget Address, the suspension of bus fares is projected to add $55 million to a projected budget deficit of nearly $350 million.

The Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Emergency Security Act (CARES Act) provides $25 billion for public transportation. Detroit will receive $133,892,582 in Federal Transit Administration (FTA) Section 5307 Urbanized Formula Area grant funding for operational and capital expenses related to the COVID-19 losses due to bus service reductions. This grant funding could potentially fund the restoration of pre-COVID -19 crisis bus service levels. This funding will also permit transit agencies to purchase personal protective equipment (masks, gloves, and cleaners), reimburse revenue losses, such as the projected losses due to bus fare suspension, and administrative leave costs related to the reduction in bus services.

The following recommendations centers and addresses the severe negative impacts of the COVID-19 outbreak on essential bus riders:

  • Immediately restore bus service to pre-COVID-19 schedules and frequency
  • Utilize CARES ACT FTA Section 5307 supplementary grant funding for bulk purchases of personal protective equipment for bus riders that must at least include face masks and gloves.
  • Utilize HR 1139 (Transportation Operator and Passenger Safety Act) proposed funding for bulk purchase of personal protective equipment for bus drivers
  • Appropriate at least $10 million, based on the November 2019 Detroit Department of Transportation Low Income Fare Analysis, to fund a post-COVID-19 universal reduced fare program for all DDOT passengers for 1 year.
  • Suspend bus fares for the duration of 2020

Sources:

American Public Transportation Association: https://www.apta.com/advocacy-legislation-policy/legislative-updates-alerts/updates/cares-act-provides-25-billion-for-public-transit/

City of Detroit COVID-19 Mayoral Budget Address: https://detroitmi.gov/sites/detroitmi.localhost/files/2020-04/4.14%20budget%20presentation%20final.pdf

Submitted by Detroit People’s Platform
and the Transit Justice Team

April 20, 2020

Detroiters need a long-term Water Affordability Policy

Detroit is being hit hard by the coronavirus. The broader and longstanding issue of income and affordability in Detroit makes us more vulnerable. We must pursue strategies to prevent the continued spread of COVID-19 and establish strong public health protections.

Right now Detroit has some of the highest water rates in the nation.

The current program to restore water in Detroit is not a long term solution that ensures all households have running water and can pay for that water. In the coming months many of us and many of our neighbors will struggle to pay household bills because of job loss and the slowdown of the economy.

CALL TO ACTION:
Contact your Council Members!

Brenda Jones, Council President, At-Large
313-224-1245 – @DetCouncilPres
bjones_mb@detroitmi.gov

Janeé L Ayers, At-Large
313-224-1027 – @Ayers4Detroit
ayersj@detroitmi.gov

James Tate, District 1
313-224-1027 – @CouncilmanTate
councilmembertate@detroitmi.gov

Roy McCalister Jr., District 2
313-224-4535 – @RoyMcCalisterJr
councilmemberMcCalister@detroitmi.gov

Scott Benson, District 3
313-224-1198 – @Scottinthe3rd
bensons@detroitmi.gov

André Spivey, District 4
313-224-4505 – @AndreLSpivey
councilmanspivey@detroitmi.gov

Mary Sheffield, President Pro Temp, District 5
313-224-4505 – @MsMarySheffield
councilmembersheffield@detroitmi.gov

Raquel Casteñeda-Lopez, District 6
313-224-2450 – @Raquel4Detroit
councilmemberraquel@detroitmi.gov

Gabe Leland, District 7
313-224-2151 – @GabeLeland
lelandg@detroitmi.gov

Tell them: “Detroiters need a long term Water Affordability Policy that ensures water remains on in our homes and protects our health.” Urge City Council to vote for a long term Water Affordability Policy.

Learn More and get involved:
wethepeopleofdetroit.com
brightmoorconnection.org

#TurnWaterOn
#KeepWaterOn
#MakeWaterAffordable

We demand Transparency, Racial Equity and Accountability

Detroit is largest Majority Black City in America.
We are one of the epicenters of COVID 19 infection and death among Black Americans. 🖤

Right now Detroiters must focus on the Budget and COVID-19 relief funds. It’s all about the Benjamins; about following the money. Detroiters who are most impacted must benefit and we want a budget that puts Detroiters first.

In the coming weeks Detroit People’s Platform members and supporters will be watching, advocating and taking action on the (1.) current Budget Cuts to 2020, (2.) the proposed 2021 Budget and (3.) the COVID-19 relief funds.

We demand Transparency, Racial Equity and Accountability in decisions being made on the City Budget and COVID-19 Relief Funds.

1. We demand the process and decision making be transparent. These decisions will impact Detroiters for generations to come.

2. We demand the allocation of the budget and relief funds be centered in racial equity that produces economic and social well-being for Majority Black Detroit. When we center Race and Racial Equity ALL Detroiters benefit. 

3. We demand a process that holds elected officials and decision makers accountable to Detroiters.

Related: “Millionaires and billionaires are set to reap more than 80% of the benefits from a change to the tax law Republicans put in the coronavirus economic relief package, according to a non-partisan congressional committee.”

Policy making doesn’t stop. Even in the middle of the COVID-19 crisis decisions are being made that will impact generations of Detroiters to come.

There are two pots of money being negotiated on during the COVID-19 crisis; the Detroit City Budget and the Federal COVID-19 Relief Funds. This week the Mayor has us focused on the City Budget Cuts but there are also discussions being had around how the COVID-19 relief funds will be used. We need to keep our eyes on both pots of money.

Our work is to remain vigilant, “show up” as we are able through calls, emails and participation in virtual meetings when possible, and make demands on our elected officials. While we organize and live through the state emergency orders we must continue to exercise our political muscles and flex our power. Let’s not let our Democracy become invisible. Now more than ever we need to engage with our government. 

Join Detroit People’s Platform in the coming weeks as we ramp and amp up these demands on the Mayor and Detroit City Council.

 

Duggan perpetuates inequality in his Coronavirus Budget Address

Mayor Duggan presented his Coronavirus Budget Address Tuesday evening. Watch
It was AWFUL.

Low income city workers will be made to take on the brunt of this crisis while the Mayor’s top staff will only take a 5% cut.

We demand deeper cuts from the top executive staff who make the most. 

Once again, the Mayor’s COVID-19 response demonstrates how inequality plays out in our community.

The Coronavirus may not check your bank account before it gets you, but the Mayor does before he cuts you.


Read More:

Duggan’s failure to make connections puts Majority Black Detroit at greater risk

Duggan’s failure to make connections puts Majority Black Detroit at greater risk

Recently, Mayor Duggan seems to have taken offense with the media’s characterization of Detroit as a “hotspot” and the association of high rates of poverty, chronic illness, and lack of health care among Detroiters as contributing factors to the spread of the virus. While it is true that we may all be susceptible to infection with the virus, we are not all equally susceptible to the impacts of the virus in terms of related illness, social and economic impacts. For our elected officials and senior public health leadership to fail to articulate this important distinction is extremely problematic.

As we see it, the media are only repeating principles rooted in current public health practice and medical science that say, certain physical and social conditions contribute to the vulnerability of certain population groups to disease and illness. Those conditions include individual, family health history and genetics which contribute to underlying/pre-existing health conditions.

It is well known that Black Detroiters along with their counterparts across the nation, experience higher rates of asthma, heart disease, hypertension, and diabetes. Medical experts generally agree that these pre-existing conditions make individuals more susceptible to the severity of the coronavirus. That may account for emerging data that suggesting death rates attributable to the coronavirus may be higher among African Americans. As of this writing in Michigan where African Americans account for 14% of the population as of this writing, they now account for 35% of coronavirus cases and 40% of coronavirus deaths in Michigan.

And then there are social and physical conditions that impact the overall health and well-being of our community. These conditions are referred to as determinants of health. Social and physical determinants of health include factors like access to quality health care, affordable and quality housing, reliable transportation, access for the disabled; clean air, access to fresh water and healthy green space to name a few. The interplay between our individual health status and determinants of health in our neighborhoods and communities ultimately defines the resilience of our neighborhoods and communities in the face of a pandemic such as the coronavirus.

The failure of our local administration to embrace this very basic principle of modern public health has resulted in bad public policy no doubt contributing to the current crisis.

Nowhere is this bad policymaking better illustrated than when, as recent as a month ago, public health officials at both the state and local level steadfastly refused to restore the water in thousands of homes in Detroit. They did this in the face of the growing pandemic and recommendations for frequent hand washing as a primary prevention strategy to combat the spread of the coronavirus. Instead, the administration and their sympathizers tap-danced and split hairs around scientific study terms like causation vs association, debating the link of illness to lack of household water.

Seemingly beyond professional accountability these arguments were used to justify mass water shutoffs over the past five years and the decision to leave hundreds if not thousands of Detroiters vulnerable and at increased risk for coronavirus infection. Only in the face of yet another demand put forth by local water justice advocates making by then the obvious connection between access to running water in the household and the primary prevention strategy of hand washing did Mayor Duggan reconsider and allow the restoration of water to families in shutoff.

Yet even now, those of us who monitor the Mayor’s position on water shutoffs grow nervous as we hear the not so veiled threat to deal with household discovered to have so called “illegal water hookups” and the Mayor’s growing impatience with the “restore water to all” demands.

Detroiters now understand that the health and the fate of our city during this pandemic and those to come will be linked across neighborhoods and households. We can no longer go along with the tactics of pitting Detroiters who can pay against those who cannot pay, while letting the administration and policy makers off the hook for creating a just and equitable solution to the problem of water affordability.

Scientist and public health officials predict the coronavirus will be around for a while.  The virus may decrease and reappear in coming months. Access to household water will remain one of the front-line prevention strategies we will have to rely upon. We will all need access to fresh and affordable water. We risk the peril of all otherwise. A policy for water affordability put forth by our water justice colleagues must be adopted and implemented with a sense of urgency.

With the economic downturn and the devastating job losses caused by the coronavirus pandemic, right now and at least into the foreseeable future, an ever increasing number of Detroiters will struggle with the basics of putting food on the table, keeping a roof over their heads and paying water bills. It is the truth that this situation is like nothing we have experienced in our lives, and that means we as residents must demand our government enact extraordinary and bold public policy initiatives that address the unique economic and social needs of the nation’s largest Black majority city. 

When the Mayor and his senior health officials fail to make the connections between long standing health disparities and inequities fueled by neighborhood and household poverty and chronic illness now exacerbated by the coronavirus; we know we cannot count on them to make decisions rooted in racial justice and equity that produce benefits for all; and we cannot count on them to create policies that drive resources to transform and build the capacity of our neighborhoods to live thru and into a post coronavirus future. 

What the present and future moments call for is that Detroiters build on our collective strength, embrace our legacy as radical change makers, and demand better from our government and elected officials than a return to the status quo. Watch for and participate in the coming online organizing and calls to action from Detroit People’s Platform until we are able to join you in community again.

 

Make homes safe to live in with COVID-19 Relief Funds

In the last week we have been bombarded with local and national media citing how Black Americans are being more impacted by the coronavirus than others. This reflects our ongoing analysis of the impact of poverty and bad public policy on Majority Black Detroit. As we move through and beyond this crisis we will continue to center race and racial equity and the need to address root cause and effect systemic change. To this end we must advocate for meaningful and intentional relief for Detroiters who are most vulnerable and most impacted.

We must use COVID-19 relief funds to make homes safe to live in for Detroiters who are more at risk due to PM2.5* exposure and other environmental and social conditions.

For the last year residents in the “impact area” of the publicly funded Fiat Chrysler expansion project have been fighting for environmental and economic protections and have not been heard. Now, in the face of the coronavirus, these very residents have been identified as some of the most vulnerable in our city. We must demand that our elected officials advocate for COVID-19 relief funds be brought down to the block level and be used to protect their constituents. Please check the resources below and get ready to support our upcoming campaigns.

*What the #%& is PM2.5?

PM2.5 refers to atmospheric particulate matter (PM) that have a diameter of less than 2.5 micrometers, which is about 3% the diameter of a human hair.

Since they are so small and light, fine particles tend to stay longer in the air than heavier particles. This increases the chances of humans and animals inhaling them into the bodies. Owing to their minute size, particles smaller than 2.5 micrometers are able to bypass the nose and throat and penetrate deep into the lungs and some may even enter the circulatory system.

Studies have found a close link between exposure to fine particles and premature death from heart and lung disease. Fine particles are also known to trigger or worsen chronic disease such as asthma, heart attack, bronchitis and other respiratory problems.

From: https://blissair.com/what-is-pm-2-5.htm

Supporting Documents:

How vulnerable is your community to coronavirus? These new maps reveal a familiar pattern.

Jvion, a healthcare data firm, has collaborated with Microsoft to launch a new COVID-19 community vulnerability map to identify the populations most vulnerable to severe complications following a coronavirus outbreak. The interactive map aggregates socioeconomic and environmental factors, such as lack of access to transportation, exposure to toxins, unemployment, and mortality rate. According to the map, these factors make certain “cancer alley” communities particularly vulnerable.

“Our most heavily weighted and frequent determining risk factor was air quality, though that doesn’t mean that it’s the most predictive factor,” said John Showalter, chief product officer for Jvion. “There’s definitely a biologic rationale that environmental health hazards that lead to pulmonary and cardiovascular conditions would then lead people with those conditions to do poorly during a COVID-19 outbreak.”

COVID Community Vulnerability Map

https://covid19.jvion.com/#

This map allows you to search and drill down into communities to view populations most vulnerable for severe outcomes if infected with a COVID-like virus and the socioeconomic factors driving that risk.

What are some of the benefits that can be realized by leveraging the COVID Community Vulnerability Map?

Quick identification of those communities where individuals are at risk for experiencing severe outcomes once infected

Ability to plan allocation of resources to those communities predicted to require hospitalization and significant medical intervention

Reduction in bed utilization by the most at-risk population for morbidity/mortality as a result of proactive outreach

 Understanding of top social determinants of health factors driving risk for those communities

COVID-19 PM2.5
A national study on long-term exposure to air pollution and COVID-19 mortality in the United States

https://projects.iq.harvard.edu/covid-pm?fbclid=IwAR3YQe380-ka6wj-THy2UXtENHXCjOIDUwnemFT9XpKkxIMgOwufh9j93LI

Background: United States government scientists estimate that COVID-19 may kill between 100,000 and 240,000 Americans. The majority of the pre-existing conditions that increase the risk of death for COVID-19 are the same diseases that are affected by long-term exposure to air pollution. We investigate whether long-term average exposure to fine particulate matter (PM2.5) increases the risk of COVID-19 deaths in the United States.

Methods: Data was collected for approximately 3,000 counties in the United States (98% of the population) up to April 04, 2020. We fit zero-inflated negative binomial mixed models using county level COVID-19 deaths as the outcome and county level long-term average of PM2.5 as the exposure. We adjust by population size, hospital beds, number of individuals tested, weather, and socioeconomic and behavioral variables including, but not limited to obesity and smoking. We include a random intercept by state to account for potential correlation in counties within the same state.

Results: We found that an increase of only 1 μg/m3 in PM2.5 is associated with a 15% increase in the COVID-19 death rate, 95% confidence interval (CI) (5%, 25%). Results are statistically significant and robust to secondary and sensitivity analyses.

Conclusions: A small increase in long-term exposure to PM2.5 leads to a large increase in COVID-19 death rate, with the magnitude of increase 20 times that observed for PM2.5 and all-cause mortality. The study results underscore the importance of continuing to enforce existing air pollution regulations to protect human health both during and after the COVID-19 crisis. The data and code are publicly available.

Read More: https://www.nytimes.com/2020/04/07/climate/air-pollution-coronavirus-covid.html?action=click&module=Top%20Stories&pgtype=Homepage