With 2019 almost in the books – and the ’20’s about to set in on Detroit again – Detroit Future City looks back on the highlights – its favorite things – from the year past.
New Report Released on Detroit’s Middle Class
Detroit Future City released a new report about Detroit’s African American middle-class on February 27th. The report, entitled, “Growing Detroit’s African-American Middle Class: The Opportunity for a Prosperous Detroit,” defines and describes the city’s middle-class population and identifies challenges and opportunities which lay ahead for it.
Researchers behind the report found that Detroit’s middle-class population comprises a smaller share of city households than those of peer cities and the surrounding region. Promisingly, though, there are many city neighborhoods described as “near-middle-class,” providing a fertile basis for future gains.
The city is home to 64,700 middle class households, 51,000 of whom are African American. Since the year 2000, many have moved to surrounding communities, researchers report. Though this trend may slow or reverse as the city grows again, a new challenge has emerged in recent years: equitable development.
For Detroit to realize a share of middle-class households on par with the surrounding region, and grow equitably, it would need to add 33,800 new middle-class residents – including an additional 27,700 African Americans.
Detroit Future City selected nine groups to receive funding and technical assistance to transform vacant lots in their community into beautiful and productive landscapes. Through its 2019 Working with Lots Grant program, DFC awarded grants valued at $95,000 to Detroit nonprofits.
The 2019 Working with Lots grantees received between $5,000 and $19,000, depending on the lot design being implemented, to create community assets from previously vacant and underutilized lots. Grantees used their funds to install one of eight lot designs from DFC’s Field Guide to Working with Lots, a do-it-yourself guide and online tool for land transformation.
This year’s grantees met on March 26 to kick off the 2019 Working with Lots Program. Among the grantees, two installed green stormwater infrastructure practices aimed at receiving a Detroit Water and Sewerage Department (DWSD) drainage credit, and one installed the Perennial Propagator Lot Design to plant flowers that could later be divided and shared throughout their community.
DFC Releases New Research on Reusing Vacant Industrial Spaces
Finding new uses for old industrial buildings is a serious challenge in Detroit, where many such buildings are no longer in productive use. Detroit Future City discusses how to address this challenge in three special reports released in 2019.
These reports were developed in conjunction with a planning process involving the Milwaukee Junction neighborhood of Detroit; that neighborhood has a heavy concentration of industrial vacancy. The resulting ‘Milwaukee Junction District Framework Study,” examines strategies for strengthening that area, with lessons from the other two reports in mind.
DFC Releases Guide to Bioretention
A new publication gave Detroit commercial property owners, including small businesses, nonprofits, and faith-based organizations, a step-by-step guide to installing green stormwater infrastructure and improving how they manage stormwater runoff in 2019.
A Detroit Property Owner’s Guide to Bioretention was developed by Detroit Future City through the Land + Water WORKS Coalition and its Bioretention Work Group. In just less than 50 pages, the guide describes how Detroiters can assess their property, make and execute a green stormwater plan, and potentially gain valuable drainage fee credits from the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department.
This guide was created through the Land + Water WORKS Coalition, which works to provide Detroit residents with the resources needed to become better stewards of their environment and engage residents around green stormwater infrastructure (GSI) opportunities. Funding for the coalition and this report was generously provided by the Fred A. and Barbara M. Erb Family Foundation.
Three new staff joined the team at DFC in 2019, strengthening organizational skill and impact.
Kimberly L. Faison joined DFC as its Director of Community and Economic Development. She has rich experience working in community and economic development in Detroit and Wayne County. Ms. Faison was formerly a Program Officer for the Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation in Detroit.
Susan Rusinowski is the newest member of DFC’s Land Use and Sustainability team. As DFC’s Stormwater Innovation Manager, Ms. Rusinowski leverages her background in stormwater engineering to provide technical assistance and project support to DFC’s stormwater management portfolio of projects.
Janet Reyes is DFC’s new Manager of Office Operations. This new role provides fresh challenges for Ms. Reyes, who has a depth of experience in administrative and operations management with Wayne County and other community-serving organizations.
More information about the entire DFC team is available here.
DFC Expands Board of Directors by Five
Five new members were voted onto the DFC Board of Directors in 2019. They are:
Steve Tobocman, Executive Director, Global Detroit
Kamillia Landrum, Executive Director, Detroit Chapter of the NAACP
Maha Freij, Executive Director, ACCESS
Dr. Margaret Dewar, Emerita Professor, University of Michigan Taubman College
Cliff Brown, Managing Partner, Woodborn Partners
“These new Directors expand the diversity of our board through their unique qualifications and respective communities,” said DFC Executive Director, Anika Goss. “We are really looking forward to the new people, ideas, and tools that they will help us to access in the coming years.”