Mayor Duggan’s Juneteenth is Problematic

There are many reasons why Mayor Duggan and his administration laying claim to Juneteenth is so problematic.

He failed to stop water shutoffs during the  COVID-19 pandemic until compelled by State Emergency Order.

He refused to fight for environmental protections for residents on Beniteau and in the FCA Impact Area.

He expanded Project Green Light and racially-biased Facial Recognition Technology throughout the city. 

He fought against the People’s Community Benefits Ordinance (Proposal A). 

and many others.

Violent Policy Every Day in Detroit

Violence against black bodies shows up in public policy every day in Detroit.

Air, Water and Land Pollution
Cuts to Basic Services
Lack of investment in youth
Public Health Dept. Defunded

Land Grabs & Water Shutoffs
Disinvestment of Neighborhoods
Corporate “Giveaways”
Foreclosures & Evictions

Under-funded Transit
Unaffordable Housing

No ‘Right to Counsel’ in Housing Court
Surveillance & Over Policing
Mass Incarceration

along with many other issues and policies.

We demand more than words. We demand policy that centers race, racial equity and JUSTICE.

Downtown Detroit’s Corporate calls for diversity and inclusion are diversionary and dismissive 

Detroit People’s Platform NEWSJune 3, 2020 

We demand Quicken/Bedrock and other Corporates do away with the discredited language and positioning of diversity and inclusion” and substitute racial justice and racial equity as the goal.   

On June 1, 2020 Crains Business Detroit gave a platform for corporate leaders to comment on the protests in Detroit in reaction to the latest violence upon black bodies by police, most recently as visited upon George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery and Breonna Taylor. Some of the corporate leaders called for greater inclusion and diversity. On June 3rd many of the corporate leaders attended a downtown press conference coordinated by Rev Wendell Anthony and we assume Mayor Duggan where similar sentiments were expressed. 

The Black community is all too familiar with this type of response in the face of tragedy.   Another statusquo corporate response, committing to doing things differently. But,it rarely is the case that the actions taken result in systemic change in a system which enshrines white privilege and power. 

Quicken and the Bedrock “family” of companies along with many other corporate leaders, like the Ilitch’s featured in the Crain’s article and the Mayor’s press conference, have reaped incredible profits and benefits for their personal business interest. Through massive public subsidies in the form of tax abatements otherwise known as corporate give aways awarded by the city of Detroit. For years we have watched proceedings where many of our elected officials are complicit in the undermining and oppression of Black Detroit. They do this through their neglect and inaction to advocate on behalf of their constituency in the presence of white male corporate power.  

Failing to raise the slightest objections or make demands on behalf of Detroiters, many of the electeds usually defer to the white corporate class while at the same time paying little to no attention to the concerns of residents who show up asking for a fair deal. They are given a minute or two to state their case. We experience the harmful impact of these decisions in our daily lives. This is the unspoken form of economic and political violence perpetrated against Black Detroiters.  

Tax abatements during the past five (5) years total close to a billion dollars. All of this awarded at a time when Detroit, the nation’s largest and poorest majority Black city, was reeling from a recent bankruptcy, high rates of childhood poverty, mass water shutoffs, historic housing foreclosures and failing public services. The city’s general fund foregoes the taxes that otherwise should accompany these types of economic development projects, sometimes for up to fifteen years. Downtown/midtown booms while neighborhoods suffer from years of neglect and disinvestment.  

This is what revitalization looks like in Detroit led by the white corporate elite and their philanthropic and nonprofit enablers. Black Detroiters who raise concerns and reject this model of exploitation are labeled as “anti-development.”  We lift up the following illustration of how the corporates sidestep anything that resembles equitable and community led solutions offered by Black Detroit.  

As part of the city’s mandated Community Benefit Agreement (CBA) process, several grassroots groups reached out to more than one of these corporations with the hope of negotiating benefits for the communityThe CBA process known to have been successful in many other cities has been reduced to a mockery here in Detroit; where certain city council members organized to undercut the more progressive CBA ordinance proposed by community. The harsh and racist rhetoric directed towards local organizers fighting for equitable development during the CBA ballot campaign is indicative of how those with power choose to wield their power over Detroiters.  

Some local media described the organizers and residents as “shake-down artist” and some groups in organized labor and other insiders accused them of scaring away development with their demands (code for construction jobs for suburban white males would be threatened). And, Mayor Duggan scoffed at the notion of allowing Black Detroiters to sit at the table with developers to negotiate a community benefit agreement, citing the tendency of Detroit residents to argue and bicker among themselves therefore incapable of getting anything done. 

Portraying Detroiters as incapable, unreasonable and therefore unworthy has become sport in Detroit’s civic landscape. 

Here we lift up just one example of the type of ask proposed by a group of Detroiters to Bedrock as part of a proposed community benefit process. 

  • As Bedrock received hundreds of millions of dollars in tax support to build luxury high rise apartments and housing, the community ask was that Bedrock donate (no specified amount was specified) to the Housing Trust Fund which is managed by the city’s Department of Housing and Revitalization. Established as the result of a three-year advocacy and organizing campaign by organizers and local residents, the Housing Trust is intended to support affordable housing for those who have an annual income of $35K or less. 
  • Support for the Detroit Black Community Food Security Network’s Cooperative Grocery Store, a project long in the making intended to not only benefit Black Detroiters but open to serving all Detroiters interested in supporting this model of food justice and community self determination.
     
  • Establish a computer lab at an emergency food pantry to increase internet access for children and adults in one of the city’s poorest neighborhoods.

These are relatively moderate asks in comparison to the public tax support provided to Quicken/Bedrock. Yet, in spite of several meetings the asks were not implemented. Many of us believe the ask were never seriously considered by Quicken/Bedrock staff to begin with.

If Quicken/Bedrock and other corporate players are sincerely ready to commit to improving and reducing the social, health and economic disparities of Black Detroit here are a few recommendations on how to show up in a tangible way RIGHT NOW.  

(a) Forego tax abatements on your development projects and PAY YOUR FAIR SHARE here in the nation’s largest and poorest majority Black city; OR, 

(b) Commit to a real community benefit agreement process with community. It is not too late for Ford Motor Company, Fiat Chrysler, Illitch Holdings, or TCF*.  As a first step towards living into their statements of commitment, these corporate leaders can immediately move to amend their existing Community Benefit Agreement with the city of Detroit, engage with community representatives and center racial equity and the needs of everyday Detroiters in these agreements.  

(c.) Corporate and other developers from the business class can set aside opposition to the proposed amendments to the current Community Benefit Agreement Ordinance now before city council. Then perhaps the process can move forward and city council can pass a REAL CBA ordinance. Adopting equitable development practices will go a long way towards demonstrating to Detroiters that the corporates and their development partners are serious about taking action to address issues of systemic racism in the way they do business in and with Black Detroit.   

In the coming weeks Detroit People’s Platform will continue with our allEquitable Detroit, the citywide CBA coalition, to organize with Detroiters and call for corporate accountabilityWe will also mobilize Detroiters to demand elected officials move forward and pass the necessary amendments the Community Benefits Ordinance in this year’s legislative session. This will create a CBA ordinance that gives Detroiters voice and power.  

In closing, we offer for reflection words appearing in Rev Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. famous work, Where Do We Go From Here, Chaos or Community  

Social Justice and progress are the absolute guarantors of riot prevention. There is no other answer. Constructive social change will bring tranquility; evasions will merely encourage turmoil.” 

*Note: TCF declined to enter into the usual CBA process outlined in the Community Reinvestment Act when bank mergers occur that may have a negative impact on low and moderate income communities as a result. In a bizarre twist TCF actually received a community benefit from taxpayers in the amount of $35 million dollar tax giveaway.

New VIDEO Turn The Water On Mayor Duggan

To survive the next wave of COVID-19, EVERYONE must have access to affordable water. In the midst of a pandemic hitting black people hard, in the nation’s largest MAJORITY BLACK CITY

Mayor Duggan is the face of Detroit’s Black Women and Children WITHOUT WATER

Call Mayor Duggan! Tell him to turn the water on so we can ALL wash our hands!

Turn The Water On Mayor Duggan! 313.224.3400 http://detroitpeoplesplatform.org

BREAKING: From the Guardian

Detroit families still without clean water despite shutoffs being lifted

“Common sense says it is racism,” said Bouier, noting that most of those who have had their water shut off are black and poor. The fatality rate of Covid-19 in Michigan is 7% of confirmed cases, but while African Americans make up only 14% of the state’s population, they make up 40% of the state’s deaths.

Brightmoor Connections Food Pantry
https://brightmoorconnection.org

 Rejecting and Resisting the Resilience Trap : Black Detroiters don’t always bounce back

COVID-19 is the most recent and perhaps the most horrific in a series of catastrophic illnesses fueled by long standing health inequities that make Black Detroiters especially vulnerable. The most recent data indicates that Detroit accounts for 9,881 confirmed cases with 1,197 deaths. (May 7, 2020)

Elected officials and senior public leaders tasked with representing the needs and interest of Black Detroiters have been heard lately referring to the resilience of Black Detroiters as a strategy for our survival in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The last time we checked, the definition of resilience included: “The ability to adapt or rebound quickly from change, illness or bad fortunes; knocked down by challenges but they return as a stronger person more steadfast than before.”

The truth is that Black Detroiters don’t always bounce back from the historic systemic and structural damage visited upon our households and our communities.

The truth is that Black Detroiters don’t always bounce back from the historic systemic and structural damage visited upon our households and our communities.  This is underwritten by the facts that:

  • We don’t bounce back from mass water shut offs the absence of affordable running water in our homes
  • We don’t bounce back when our homes are overtaxed and swindled from us by unscrupulous lenders
  • We don’t bounce back when we are displaced by rents that consume more than 60% of our monthly income
  • We don’t bounce back from low pay no benefit jobs that make being an essential worker a death wish
  • We don’t bounce back from a plan for economic revitalization that transfers billions of public tax benefits to wealthy white developers and leaves our neighborhoods shrouded in blight and disrepair

Calls for resilience from policy makers are no substitute for thoughtful and bold initiatives that get at and eliminate the root of these unjust conditions reinforced by a status quo system of white supremacy.

In fact, the call for resilience and the need for Black folks to “step up” in the face of the most devastating public health event in this century, could be interpreted as shifting the responsibility for defeating this pandemic to individuals and to giving those in power a pass.

The call for resilience in the face of COVID-19 also reinforces the racist notion that Black bodies are somehow more capable of experiencing repeated episodes of physical pain, sorrow and loss – that somehow both experiencing and surviving trauma is normalized among Black Detroiters.

In the face of the COVID-19 pandemic, Majority Black Detroit deserves leadership that rejects and resists the notion of individual resilience as a strategy for COVID-19 relief and recovery.

In the face of the COVID-19 pandemic, Majority Black Detroit deserves leadership that rejects and resists the notion of individual resilience as a strategy for COVID-19 relief and recovery.  Instead, we call upon our elected officials and public leaders to be guided by a strategy that centers racial justice and equity in COVID resource allocation and related public policies. To do anything less will undermine the long term success of Black Detroiters for generations to come.

RENT CANCELLATION is not the same as a STAY on EVICTIONS

Please note: The Eviction Stay has now been extended to June 11, 2020 by Governor Whitmer.

https://www.detroitnews.com/story/news/local/michigan/2020/05/14/gov-whitmer-extends-eviction-suspensions-through-june-11/5196505002/?fbclid=IwAR1tWGdowOvFxNenN9kIr06q1pXddc9gblwF_suTh5913j8wdIzQK_7YE9o

In consideration of the devastating health and economic impact of COVID-19 virus pandemic many housing advocates and activists are calling for a MORATORIUM on rent payments including late penalties and fees. Some advocates are even calling for RENT CANCELLATION during the COVID-19 pandemic in addition to a STAY on EVICTIONS.  (Moratorium is a suspension or an authorized delay or period of time during which the law authorizes a delay in payment or some other legal obligation. This type of moratorium is most often invoked during times of distress such as war, natural disaster or emergencies)

We want to make sure Detroit renters are clear on the current policy that exist in regard to rent payments and evictions. The STAY on EVICTIONS issued under Michigan Governor Whitmer’s current Emergency Order extends the STAY on EVICTIONS thru May 28, 2020.  This also applies to 36th District Court.

The STAY on EVICTIONS does not mean you do not have to pay your rent. RENT CANCELLATION or RENT FORGIVENESS is not the same as a STAY on EVICTIONS.  

Nowhere in the Governor’s recent Emergency Order or the 36th District court order does it say or suggest that you do not have to pay your rent or that you are not expected to pay your rent during the COVID-19 emergency.

At Detroit People’s Platform we have joined with national partners in advocating for proposals to cancel the debt of rent and utilities arrears as a result of the tremendous economic hardship many of our individuals and families are facing. However, that advocacy does not at this time influence the nature of the Governor Whitmer’s Emergency Order in Michigan or the 36th District Court policy on evictions here in Detroit.

Details of Governor Whitmer’s Order and the 36th District Court Order from The Supreme Court as it relates to rent payments include the following:

  • The current extension on Stay on Evictions that also includes pending court evictions is 5-28-20. After which non-payment of rent action can be filed by landlord or property owner.
  • Michigan’s current RENT MORATORIUM applies also to cases that were filed and evictions put forth before the Governor’s executive order.
    • If you had an eviction case in process prior to the STAY on EVICTIONS, deadlines for filing complaints & additional paperwork is suspended and the delay will not be held against you. Contact the court for further guidance. Some courts will have e-filing &/or mailing available.
  • exception is that if any tenant or mobile homeowner poses substantial risk to another person or property they can be evicted.
  • After 5-28-2020 landlord are expected to take the same measures required for a legal eviction process.

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