This year challenged us all – but our work to build a stronger and more equitable Detroit marched on. Here are select highlights – a few of our favorite things – from the year we leave behind.
May 2021 New Study Sets Baseline for Economic Equity in DetroitThe State of Economic Equity in Detroit, a 100+ page research report, was published by Detroit Future City in May 2021. The data-driven report describes current conditions of economic equity in Detroit using more than two dozen indicators. Importantly, it highlights opportunities for improvement – ways that Detroiters can change policy and practice to ensure all residents are participating in the city’s ongoing revitalization. Detroit Future City’s staff team followed up the publication of this report with an exhaustive outreach campaign, sharing its findings with residents, the media, and local leaders from all walks of life.
June 2021 2021 Forum Organizes, Informs, Encourages Equity Change MakersOn the heels of The State of Economic Equity in Detroit, Detroit Future City hosted 300 community residents and stakeholders for its 2021 Economic Equity Forum. The June 21st virtual forum highlighted report findings and featured nationally renowned keynote speakers Drs. Derrick Hamilton of the New School and Andre Perry of The Brookings Institution. Through the keynotes, a panel discussion, and breakout sessions, participants learned about and made plans to encourage more equitable economic participation among city residents.
July 2021 Open Space Development Launched in PoletownIn partnership with Arboretum Detroit, Detroit Future City kicked off its latest land use transformation project in Spring 2021. The project, which won funding support from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, will transform twelve vacant lots on the near East Side into a public space with a forest, meadow, mounds, and walking paths for all to enjoy. Site clean-up and volunteer organizing began this fall, with full construction and planting to take place in 2022 and early 2023. The project will encourage outdoor recreation and connection to nature. It is expected to open to the public during Summer 2023.
July 2021 Shared Goals for Quality, Affordable Housing Set to Drive ChangeIn July, the Advisory Committee of the 80+ member Detroit Neighborhood Housing Compact met to formally adopt shared goals for increasing quality, affordable housing in Detroit. These new goals – to increase homeownership, reduce housing cost burden for renters and owners and increase housing quality – are now being used by Compact members to align and expand their work. It is expected that, over the next five years, Compact members will help bring new, quality, affordable housing online in the city, improving the lives of low- and moderate-income homebuyers, homeowners, and renters.
July 2021 New Dashboard Tool Makes Economic Equity Progress TransparentAlso, in July 2021, Detroit Future City published a new online dashboard around economic equity in Detroit. The dashboard tool translates earlier research into a public portal, through which residents, community groups, and other stakeholders can see in real-time their progress towards a more equitable Detroit. Detroit Future City has put in place procedures and resources to keep this data up to date; as the city changes, those changes will be reflected on the dashboard and provide a means for the community to measure and motivate real progress in this area.
October 2021 Study Informs Growth of Industry, Jobs in Southwest DetroitThroughout the year, Detroit Future City was working closely with its partner, the Southwest Detroit Business Association, on a study of industrial development along Michigan Avenue. In October, the findings of this study were made public, highlighting opportunities to further grow jobs and industry in one of Southwest Detroit’s most economically important employment corridors. The study looked at how to develop industry in the corridor and how to make sure that growth benefits residents through development patterns that employ locals and have the least disruption to quality of life. Southwest Detroit Business Association is already undertaking to put the study’s findings into action.
December 2021 New Innovation Series Brings Equity Experts to Detroit AudiencesDetroit Future City kicked off a new Equity Innovation Series program to close out the year. This speaker series features experts discussing the drivers of economic equity in Detroit. Its first session was hosted by Detroit Future City on December 15th and was titled “Growing and Retaining Detroit’s Black Middle Class: An indication of economic equity.” The event featured speakers from Cinnaire, the Greater Chatham Initiative, the Bagley Community Council, and Live Baltimore, each discussing their own experiences of growing and retaining Black, middle-class populations. More Equity Innovation Series events are planned for 2022 – stay tuned for upcoming announcements.