Have you heard about the Future of Health yet?
It’s a massive development project in the New Center area proposed by Henry Ford Health, MSU and Tom Gores’ Detroit Pistons. ‘But for’ the way we dole out our public resources in Detroit they are requesting nearly $300 million in tax incentives, abatements, and captures. This is the next and biggest public wealth grab we’ve seen in a city that has negotiated away over $2 BILLION in tax resources since emergency management and bankruptcy.
What’s the problem?
Polling conducted earlier this year confirms that 88% of Detroiters are at odds with city’s development priorities, want truly affordable housing and neighborhood funding. Yet public funding of these types of development projects continue to occur. Economic development in Detroit has been weaponized against majority Black Detroiters and the inequitable and unjust outcomes have been reported on repeatedly.
Most recently a Detroit Future City report details the horrifying difference in life expectancy between white Detroiters at 76 years and Black Detroiters only living, on average, 68 years. We have also lost over 100,000 Black Detroiters in the last 10 years. The economic impact of the Future of Health project will increase the cost of living and reduce the quality of life for Detroiters in and around the impact area and contribute to these trends.
How is this happening? What about the Community Benefits Ordinance?
When large scale projects like this happen in Detroit the Community Benefits Ordinance (CBO) is supposed to offset that impact through concessions negotiated by a 9-person Neighborhood Advisory Council (NAC). Unfortunately, as we have seen repeatedly, this is NOT the case.
The Planning and Development Department under the leadership of Director Antione Bryant, most recently rejected the call from community activist for a racial equity lens to be applied to the Future of Health project thereby ensuring accountability in the CBO process and equity for majority low income and Black residents who reside in the impact area.
What can we do to get better economic and quality of life outcomes for majority Black Detroit?
The Future of Health CBO process has been the worst yet, but it is still in play. Henry Ford Health, Michigan State University (MSU)and Piston’s owner, Tom Gores just presented their concessions to offset the negative impact of the project. What they have presented is unacceptable and will fail to interrupt our collective loss.
Though community concerns and demands have been well represented by a few NAC members, the Planning and Development Department (PD) has a super-majority of appointed NAC members. Detroiters need to get involved and demand more from those who represent Detroiters in these negotiations.
We’re sick of the promises and falsehoods. Detroiters won’t accept any current programs being positioned as part of the CBA benefits. What’s more, we’re sick of projects that benefit future Detroiters on the backs of those already here. Positioning long-term tax resources for luxury housing owned by white billionaires while majority Black Detroit public schools shut down for days due to lack of air conditioning is just one among many injustices rooted in racism.
Detroiters need to demand fair and equitable return on our tax investment from Henry Ford Health Systems, Michigan State University and Tom Gores through a strong and negotiated Community Benefit Agreement.
Also, Detroiters need to let the Future of Health NAC members appointed by the Planning Department know it is their ethical duty and responsibility to represent the interest of those residing in the impact area who will be most negatively impacted by this project.
The fact is that the Future of Health deal and others like it are directly connected to the loss of resources and services that would support, maintain, and even increase our Black population.
What is the MISSION?
Out of the 52 “benefits” provided by the developer, 37 were either not requested by the NAC or already part of the development. Thus, 71% of the developers’ benefits package are Henry Ford’s, MSU’s, and Tom Gores’ benefits, and not the community’s.
The benefits the NAC did not ask for include a $10 million fund for a Rehab Hospital; $30 million for green space, deal to sell products from local businesses in Pistons gift shop, and reintegration program for veterans. While helpful, these items do not reflect the most urgent needs of residents in the impact area, which is housing for families with children, seniors, and low-income resident.
As stated, most of the benefits are things the developers were already going to do; nearly none of the cash investments requested by community were put on the board. The NAC made 28 asks for cash investments in community needs and only 1 was agreed to. To show how cheap the developers are, one of the investments included $225 for an art contest for kids in the area and Henry Ford, MSU, and Tom Gores said NO.
Henry Ford, MSU, and Tom Gores have called their offer “mission driven benefits” but what is the mission?
These are OUR Tax dollars! Participate!
Attend a Future of Health Community Benefits meeting.
Meetings on Tuesdays at 6:00 PM
University Prep High School, Ed Parks Campus
610 Antoinette St. Detroit, MI 48202
VIEW REMOTELY VIA ZOOM
Register to receive meeting link: https://bit.ly/futureofhealthdetroit
Dial by phone: +1 312 626 6799
Meeting ID: 873 4667 3162