Targeted Detroit neighborhoods, schools get major boost

Aug 2, 2012

The state of Michigan, the city of Detroit and the Detroit Public Schools have launched an intensive effort to stabilize some city neighborhoods.

The targeted interventions focus on three major areas around a total of nine schools across the city.

The effort officially kicked off Thursday afternoon outside Clark Preparatory Academy in Detroit’s Morningside neighborhood, on the city’s east side. Other targeted areas include the communities around Bagley and Bates schools in northwest Detroit, and several schools including the Roberto Clemente Academy in southwest Detroit.

The state is sending in resources aimed at housing stabilization, blight demolition, and general clean-up around those schools.

Lansing will also send in some state police patrols. And the state Department of Human Services will put social workers in “Family Resource Centers” within the targeted schools, which will offer a wider of social services to the surrounding community.

Corporate and non-profit groups will chip in additional resources.

Detroit Mayor Dave Bing says the city “appreciates” the additional help.

“This revitalization initiative from the state and DPS complements our work and we look forward to collaborating and assisting in their demolition and rehabilitation efforts,” Bing said.

The city has undertaken its own demolition blitz. Bing has an initiative to demolish 1500 vacant structures by fall, also targeting the areas around schools.

The additional resources also mesh with the city’s ongoing Detroit Works project, which aims to stabilize some of the city’s stronger, denser neighborhoods. 7 of the 9 targeted schools are within Detroit Works demonstration areas.

Governor Snyder says the state has committed $10 million to the effort so far, if these targeted interventions prove to be successful, more state resources might be forthcoming.

“That’s the goal,” Snyder said. “We’re doing this because we believe it will work, and we want to get good experience and do continuous improvement, and then continue to ramp up the program."

"The reinvention of Detroit cannot be complete without including the neighborhoods.”

Morningside residents gathered outside the school to cheer the announcement--though some were skeptical about its ability to do much in an area they say has declined rapidly in the past 10-15 years.

O’Dell Tate, President of the Morningside Community Association, repeatedly described his neighborhood as “wonderful,” with many beautiful, well-maintained houses and a strong community spirit.

But, “We have parts of our wonderful community that have a band-aid on them, as I call it right now,” Tate said. “And we have parts of our community, unfortunately, that are on life support.”

"Hopefully, through this wonderful project, we’ll be able to take care of them…[so] they will no longer be an eyesore, or an endangerment to this community.”