Throughout the summer, my main project involved conducting research and creating a database regarding the ownership and tax status of residential properties, which can be used by my organization to plan future development projects. At the beginning of the program, my site supervisor told me that this work can be very tedious, but nonetheless crucial. After spending weeks researching hundreds of properties, I think I understand that now. Among the properties I researched, nearly 30% of them were owned by the Land Bank, which is supposed to acquire properties and put them to use by selling them to Detroiters. Unfortunately, many properties have yet to be sold and are usually vacant or not well maintained. While this research definitely showed the signs of economic distress in Northeast Detroit (District 3), I think it also showed the potential of the neighborhoods. I’m excited to see what Nortown CDC’s next development project may be.
The property research made up a main part of my work, but the majority of time was actually spent assisting with other projects or tasks. Part of Nortown CDC’s mission is a commitment to historic preservation, so I’ve worked on researching some historical sites in Northeast Detroit and writing stories that will be used in their newspaper. I also attended numerous webinars to compile resources and contacts the organization can refer to, as well as searching for grant opportunities. I even got to learn about the American Rescue Plan, specifically in regard to how the community wishes to see the funds benefit them (in contrast to how the city will spend them). I also attended many City Council meetings and Land Use Zoning hearings pertaining to items that affect District 3. I’ve also gotten to assist my supervisor with matters relating to the organization’s affordable housing project.
As I reflect on the summer, I’m really glad that I got to work on such a wide range of projects and tasks. At first, I found this to be a little intimidating, but getting such positive feedback from my supervisor has definitely made me proud of everything I’ve done. Having so many different projects also allowed me to learn just how much work nonprofit organizations have to manage, along with what the Northeast Detroit community is up against. I’m also likely continuing my work with Nortown CDC, so I’m not entirely sad that the summer is almost over! 🙂