Week 8: Learning about housing policy & initiatives – Detroit Community-Engaged Research Program

Week 8: Learning about housing policy & initiatives

I can’t believe it’s Week 8 of the fellowship! Only one more week to go everyone!

Reflecting on my time with CDAD, I feel thankful for the deep-dive of housing policies and initiatives in Detroit. Housing equity has always been a topic to me that hits close to home (no pun intended). I feel a deep, interpersonal connection to the housing crisis nationally, so I feel humbled, in a full-circle type of way, to be working with housing coalitions in Detroit to make the Detroit housing crisis safer, and more equitable. I have done a lot of work over the past few weeks with the Detroit Right to Counsel coalition, that has a mission of working together to establish and support a right to legal counsel for people facing eviction in Detroit. This means, with a right to counsel ordinance passed, that tenants will be guaranteed representation in court when being evicted from their homes. I have learned that In 2017, there were over 30,000 processed eviction cases in the 36th District Court of Michigan. From those cases, under 5% of tenants had legal representation in court. Landlords had access to legal representation over 80% of the time. Those statistics highlights so many issues–– power struggles, wealth disparities, racist policies, systemic poverty issues–– you name it.

I have also been learning (slightly) about Proposal N in Detroit. Proposal N would allow for the preservation and demolitions of 8,000 homes that are deemed unsafe, and lower neighborhood property values. On paper, this seems like a great initiative–– remove homes that cause blight and potentially open up empty lots for public parks, new homes, or just extra land. In reality, the process is a little finicky, and choosing which houses get demolished is a sort of vague process. I wonder what this proposal will accomplish in the next 5 years.

I am really lucky to have deep dived into housing policy and initiatives during my time with CDAD, and I hope to continue this work in the future.

2 thoughts on “Week 8: Learning about housing policy & initiatives”

  1. Wow, I had no idea that the representation for evicted tenants was that low. It seems like it is not a fair fight, especially since eviction cases (and any type of legal battles) are very confusing for the average person.

  2. Proposal N sounds interesting, and not in a good way. It definitely raises the question of how to choose the houses, and who will be hurt in the process. I’m so glad you have had an awesome summer experience, and I can’t wait to hear more at the symposium.

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