Letter to The District Detroit NAC

January 23, 2023

The District Detroit

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Date: January 23,2023

To:  District Detroit Neighborhood Advisory Committee

Detroit People's Platform (DPP) is the anchor organization for the citywide CBA coalition, Equitable Detroit Coalition (EDC).  As mentioned in my public remarks during the January 17th CBO meeting, EDC/DPP have monitored each of the eleven qualifying CBO /NAC processes. We acknowledge the role of the Neighborhood Advisory Committee (NAC) in the negotiation process but also own the expertise of the coalition with more than a decade of organizing and advocating for a strong and equitable outcome for Detroiters through the CBA process.  We believe in an economic development model that is fair and just and provides for the long term benefit of Detroiters and not simply the corporate profits for the investor class.

Further, we view Detroiters as important investors in the economic development process with a reasonable expectation to benefit from public investments in the short term vs at the end of a given two to three decade abatement timeframe. That is the undisputed practice of the CBA process embraced by communities across the nation.

We believe the goal of the NAC negotiating process is to WIN for those Detroiters most impacted by the proposed development, tangible benefits that help to mitigate development related harms that further racial inequality in Detroit. Those harms may include housing displacement, capture of the commons such as city owned prime land and green space, disruption of long standing cultural entities, and negative environmental health impacts; and most notably  midtown/downtown large scale developments that have resulted in what is commonly referred to as two Detroits.  Given the extraordinary request for public subsidies included in the District Detroit Project, we believe the accompanying community benefits proposed by the NAC should align and reflect a similar investment into the impacted community.

Nowhere is the negative impacts of the District Detroit more likely to be felt than in the short and long term impact on housing opportunities for those in the impact area including low income households with children and low income senior households.  Although the developer has proposed a housing affordability model we believe it does not mitigate the harm and disruption to residents caused by displacement and escalating rents that by the admission of one NAC member " is inevitable." The accompanying recommendation from the NAC member to donate funds to a homeless shelter is equally unacceptable.

What we are recommending is that the NAC propose to the Developer a community benefit that calls for a multi year investment in the Detroit Affordable Housing Development and Preservation Fund (DAHDPF) commonly known as the Detroit Affordable Housing Trust Fund (HTF), over the life of the District Detroit abatement period.  By ordinance the HTF can accept donations, grants and contributions.

Established in 2017 by city ordinance, the Housing Trust Fund is a model policy solution championed by social service providers, housing justice activist, local residents and Detroit city council members.  Currently there are some 600 plus affordable housing trust funds located across the nation that focus on providing secure, accessible and quality housing to low income households, those who are unhoused or those in need of unique housing solutions. The Detroit Housing Trust Fund is managed by the city thru Housing Revitalization Department (HRD) and provides funding to developers who meet the criteria.  Recently, many municipalities allocated funds from the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) to either establish or enhance the local trust fund in communities such as Kansas City, Indianapolis and Cincinnati, Ohio.  Unfortunately, Detroit did not respond to community request for a similar allocation.

I have attached a copy of a recent report submitted to Detroit City Council under the Inclusionary Housing Ordinance Annual Report that list the various HTF projects funded to date.  For additional questions you may refer to Director Bryant and Aaron Goodman who are coordinating the CBA process as well as key staff from the Housing and Revitalization Department.

Thank you for the consideration.

linda s campbell

Detroit People's Platform 

Equitable Detroit Citywide CBA Coalition