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

Detroit is now a Hot Spot because it’s been a HOT MESS since Emergency Management

Ancestor Charity Hicks 🖤 referred to Emergency Management in Detroit as a Hot Mess. 7 years ago this month Democracy was suspended in our city. It was done against the will and the vote of the people and the policies that have been put into place since have hurt everyday Detroiters.

Detroit is now a COVID-19 Hot Spot because it’s been a HOT MESS since Emergency Management.

In the face of the coronavirus pandemic, we pause to give thanks and honor to the front line workers and neighborhood volunteers who are sacrificing their lives and the lives of their families by providing food, water, counseling, housing and direct medical care and mental health support to those in need.

Although it is conventional wisdom that during a crisis we avoid the blame game,the pointing of fingers and suspend judgement about misguided public policies of the past, Detroiters must remain vigilant about how our government is showing up for us and how our democracy is responding on our behalf. Failed economic and social public policies of the recent past have no doubt contributed to the rapid rise of Detroit as one of the coronavirus hot spots. Those policies range from mass water shutoffs and home foreclosures; over investment of public resources in the downtown/midtown sports and entertainment and disinvestment in our neighborhood social and economic infrastructure.

Detroiters must demand accountability from those elected and in power who continue to make decisions everyday in the midst of the epidemic – decisions that will have life and death consequences right now and for years to come.

The aftermath of this pandemic will have far reaching consequences and shape the future of the nation’s largest majority Black city. We need to make sure that the long standing needs of our neighborhoods and communities are positioned first to receive resources that are allocated for the local corona virus recovery.

Finally, as we hold each other in care and solidarity, we invite you to join with the Detroit People’s Platform to build and exercise power in creating a sustainable and vibrant future Detroit rooted in racial and economic justice.

 

We must center RACE and RACIAL EQUITY during the COVID-19 crisis

A recent article in Bridge Magazine identifies Detroit as having one of the highest per capita coronavirus infection rates in the nation. Just in this past week, news statements have labeled Detroit as one of the coronavirus hot spots, a distinction shared by New York City as well. The article correctly points to the unique vulnerability of Detroiters to CODVID19 based on high rates of chronic and debilitating illness. We would also add exposure to environmental hazards that produce high rates of asthma and respiratory disease as major risk factors for the virus 

These conditions do not randomly occur and are not solely based on individual health behavior. Rather, these health disparities and health inequities are rooted in long standing structural and systemic racism that produces unhealthy outcomes for African Americans. Therefore, it stands to reason that Detroit, the nation’s largest majority Black city and other majority Black communities across Michigan and the nation will disproportionately bear the brunt of the coronavirus epidemic. And while we know that the virus doesn’t discriminate, many of the current systems that impact the daily lives of Black Detroiters do discriminate and produce uneven and unhealthy life circumstances.      

As leaders in Detroit and Lansing struggle to respond to this unprecedented health and economic upheaval, it is critical that our elected officials and policy makers center race and racial equity in the decision-making process.

Detroiters must demand that mitigation and containment strategies take into account the social and economic realities for majority Black Detroit including how and where we earn a living; how we feed and care for our familieshow we share our housing and living spaces across generations; how cultural and spiritual connections are essential and how our very survival historically is rooted in our togetherness in community.   

In addition to much needed and immediate material relief for individuals and families required at this time, Detroiters must also demand that our local government and elected officials be more responsive to the REAL priorities that help mitigate illness and risk to health, and promote the long term health and well being of Detroiters. We must demand an end to the inhumane policies that increase the vulnerability of Detroiters not just to the coronavirus but the sure to come future upheavals.  

We speak specifically about local policies that result in water shutoffs to thousands, loss of secure housing thru unjust foreclosures and eviction; diversion of public assets into the hands of wealthy one percenters and household poverty rates that are some of the highest in the nation.  

Many agree there will be a new normal on the other side of this epidemic. Detroiters must therefore demand a new normal where these unjust policies are not simply put on temporary pause in this moment of crisis but instead are permanently bannedWe WIN this demand by organizing and advocating for a local government that prioritizes investment in our families and neighborhoods as the pathway to a revitalized, resilient and sustainable Detroit

Media

Bridge Magazine: Coronavirus spreading faster in Detroit than nearly anywhere in United States

DETROIT — The coronavirus pandemic is ravaging the poorest big city in the nation, prompting concerns about whether a municipality still recovering from bankruptcy can provide services to its most vulnerable residents.

Michigan Public Radio: Detroit is a COVID-19 hotspot. What the data do, and don’t, tell us

Metro Detroit has become one of the nation’s COVID-19 hotspots. And experts predict the situation will get even more dire in the next several weeks. The city of Detroit is a hotspot within the hotspot. As of Thursday, the city reported 888 COVID-19 cases, with 19 deaths so far.