The Misnomer of Affordable Housing in Detroit

The Misnomer of Affordable Housing in Detroit

Editorials, Homelessness, Opinion
By Delphia Simmons, Editor I cringe when I read or hear the “A-word” uttered in Detroit these days, especially in relationship to housing. As a city, I think we’ve almost forgotten that affordable housing for all is as important to the life of a truly thriving city as shiny new restaurants and shops, perhaps even more so. I wish I could say I believe that Detroit understands this fact. But much of what I hear is easy lip service and background noise. The reality is clearer each day: We are losing housing that is affordable for most residents of Detroit at a pace that is not keeping up with replacement or even the proclamations of new developments with 20% “affordable” units. Adding to the problem is the fact that units…
Read More
Intentionally Unintentional

Intentionally Unintentional

Editorials, Opinion, Uncategorized
By Delphia Simmons I strive to maintain a perspective that has a lens on multiple angles of Detroit’s revitalization. I live, work, and play here and believe that, with intentionality, decisions can be made in a way that considers the impact on the economically disadvantaged as just as much a priority as the need to attract and retain those who are not. To that end, I like to give folks the benefit of the doubt in the space between what they say and what they do. Along with being human, there comes the realization that, no matter how well-meaning, we range between hitting the bull's eye and losing the arrow altogether. We can totally miss it. We’ve all been there, but these experiences are not wasted because we can learn…
Read More
Impound, Impact, Innovation

Impound, Impact, Innovation

Commentary, Editorials, Opinion
Depending on whose report you dig into, my neighborhood is made up of a significant number of individuals and families in the lower income range. According to City-data.com, in 2011, over 40% of the residents in my zip code had incomes at or below poverty level. I would venture to say that many of those residents are among the large percentage who can’t afford the cost of auto or homeowners insurance in Detroit. I’ve seen what would be an inconvenience or minor blip for a middle-class family become a substantial crisis for families whose economic margins are razor thin. We’ve been in this neighborhood for 20 years and witnessed decline as family homes have been lost because of back taxes or destroyed by fire, with no insurance to repair or…
Read More
Gold, Silver, Furniture

Gold, Silver, Furniture

Editorials, Opinion
The sign in the store window was too large to miss: "Trade Your Gold and Silver for Furniture". By the time I pulled into my driveway just a few miles away, I had experienced a range of emotions surrounding what the sign meant, what it conveyed, what it said without saying. For days the sign continued to disturb my thinking on the daily commute to work. It sounded brazen and rude and raw with what seemed like an underlying message that anyone -- on either side of the "furniture for gold or silver" transaction -- should be ashamed to acknowledge being a part of. But I have learned that disturbances are food for thought, an indicator to go deeper than the obvious ripples on the surface. If I have learned…
Read More

Opportunity is the Fabric of Innovation

Editorials, Opinion
Recently I was asked to answer the question: How can cities better connect all residents to economic opportunity? It’s been a few months since that question was posed to me and I’m sure it is one of many on the minds of residents of Detroit and cities everywhere. The answer is not “one size fits all” and involves a spectrum of opportunities beyond just economic ones. It would seem that the scope of one’s opportunity is relative to a history of previous opportunities to build upon. The case has already been made regarding the effects of systemic racism and inequity on opportunity. A city that does not work to address these imbalances will, by default, continue to build the opportunity portfolios of the privileged, while ignoring those in less-privileged positions…
Read More

Detroit Districts Rallying to Form Community Advisory Councils by Deadline

Editorials
Despite having a shorter-than-anticipated window of time, every one of the seven newly formed City Council Districts is working to meet the requirements to form a Community Advisory Council (CAC) for their district. CAC formation requires that each district obtain the buy-in of 10% of the residents of that district via petition signature, a requirement that would not be as difficult if each district’s City Council members used their platform to rally support for CACs among the very residents that elected them. According to commentary within the Detroit City Charter, the establishment of CACs is part of the Charter’s revision to foster direct resident participation in government in a formal and institutionalized manner as an effective means to achieve community objectives and improve the overall condition of the city. The…
Read More