New Poll Reveals 88% of Detroiters at Odds with City’s Development Priorities

May 31, 2023

New Poll Reveals 88% of Detroiters at Odds with City’s Development Priorities, Want Truly Affordable Housing and Neighborhood Funding

Results come as new census data shows Black residents being pushed out of Detroit as economic development excludes them 


DETROIT, MI — Ten years since the imposition of financial emergency management in Detroit, a new citywide poll shows that the vast majority of Detroiters oppose the agendas of the major real estate developers in the city, and want to see tax dollars spent in their neighborhoods. The poll, conducted by national research and polling firm American Pulse, asked 430 Detroit registered voters from every Council district their opinions about development in light of the $1.5B District Detroit project, recently passed through a statewide board.

The poll was commissioned by Detroit Peoples’ Platform (DPP), a city-wide coalition that advances racial and economic justice in the nation’s largest majority-Black city. DPP was created to organize for benefit and relief for longtime Detroiters harmed by the austerity of emergency management and municipal bankruptcy. These results come as new data was released showing that Detroit’s status as the largest majority-Black city is under question, reflecting an exodus of Black residents who increasingly are denied access to affordable housing and good-paying jobs. While policymakers, philanthropists, and business leaders gather this week at the Mackinac Policy Conference to discuss the state of Michigan’s economy, DPP will mark its tenth anniversary on June 3, bringing together hundreds of community members to advance their priorities for a racially just Detroit. 

“This polling shows what our communities have known for years: Detroiters want and urgently need stable and safe housing, thriving neighborhoods, and equitable development––but policymakers continue to siphon the peoples’ money towards projects that stand in the way of making this a reality,” said Linda Campbell, Director of Detroit People's Platform. “Despite political resistance, we’ve built power to win concessions for our communities, but we need wholesale reevaluation of development priorities to build a truly just and equitable Majority Black Detroit.”

Detroit voters overwhelmingly (88.8%) agree that any tax incentives should be used by local business and neighborhood organizations to invest in neighborhood housing; recreation and commercial centers; schools; libraries; and infrastructure. Specifically, Black Detroiters’ top priorities for development are affordable and accessible housing (48.9% marked it as their first or second priority) and libraries, schools, and recreation centers (46.6% marked it as their first or second priority). Only 6.1% of Black respondents mark “Retail, Dining and Entertainment Districts” as a first or second priority, which have dominated the development projects in Detroit over the last decade.

Overall, respondents also say they trust community activists the most (29.7%), “to make decisions about how to invest our tax resources for the purpose of development", while only 3.2% of respondents say they trust private developers to do so. 

Over the last ten years, Detroit Peoples’ Platform has advanced material well-being and protections for low-income majority Black Detroiters: 

  • Organized with residents and social service providers as part of the Affordable Housing Trust Fund Coalition to establish the Detroit Affordable Housing Trust Fund in 2017. DPP led and won a campaign to double the amount of money dedicated to this fund in 2021. 
  • Established the Equitable Detroit Coalition, the citywide Community Benefits Agreement (CBA) coalition in 2014. In 2016, organized to bring to the ballot and win the nation’s first Community Benefits Ordinance (CBO). 
  • Increased access for essential bus riders in Detroit with the Transit Justice Team, saving downtown bus routes critical to majority Black Detroit ridership with the “Keep Woodward on Woodward” campaign. Campaigned alongside Black-led disability justice groups to win increased paratransit funding and vendor services.