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Deputy HUD secretary tours SNF neighborhoods, touts Detroit as national leader in leveraging federal funds for revitalization

  • $12.7 million in federal funding across 10 SNF areas leveraged into more than $169.4 million in total neighborhood investment.
  • City investment includes 4 parks and 7 streetscapes, including Livernois, Kercheval.
  • Leveraged private investment includes buildings with affordable housing and retail.
  • HUD-supported Motor City Match program has helped 57 new businesses open in the 10 SNF neighborhoods, along with more than 70 in other parts of the city.

City leadership took Adrianne Todman, the deputy secretary of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, on a bus tour of the city today, showcasing how Detroit has become a national leader in leveraging federal funds into equitable, community-driven neighborhood revitalization.

Following decades of disinvestment, and just seven years after emerging from bankruptcy, Detroit is now experiencing the largest wave of development in a half-century, much of it seeded by strategic federal investment. To highlight the progress being made in neighborhoods across the city, Todman was shown examples of how the Duggan administration has converted $12.7 million in federal funding into more than $169.4 million in investment across the city’s 10 Strategic Neighborhood Fund (SNF) communities.

The SNF is a public-private partnership with Invest Detroit designed to revitalize neighborhoods across the city by providing project “gap financing” and neighborhood improvements to attract private investment. Using a combination of local and federal dollars, along with corporate and philanthropic investment, the SNF spurs development in four key areas:

  • neighborhood stabilization
  • revitalizing commercial corridors
  • park and greenway improvements
  • new mixed-use, multi-family anchor developments

The SNF was launched in 2014 with three neighborhoods – Livernois/McNichols, Islandview/Greater Villages, and Southwest/Vernor. In 2018, Mayor Mike Duggan enlisted corporate sponsors, each of whom committed investments of at least $5 million, to expand the SNF footprint to a total of 10 neighborhood areas, and ensuring each City Council district had at least one. The plans and allocation of funding were based on community input and the unique characteristics of each neighborhood. That makes the investments in these neighborhoods driven by Detroiters and more likely to be embraced by the neighborhood.

“We are incredibly proud of the progress that we’ve made in the Strategic Neighborhood Fund communities,” Mayor Duggan said. “Cities have a responsibility to wisely invest federal resources into projects and initiatives that generate the most positive change and the most return on that investment. To get such a return on investment, and to create so much equity and opportunity for Detroiters in the process, is something this administration is incredibly proud of.”

The SNF effort is led by the City’s Planning & Development (PDD) and Housing & Revitalization (HRD) departments and builds upon existing strengths in the neighborhoods and aligns resources, including federal funding, to marshal a significant and holistic neighborhood revival. Using HUD dollars as seed money, HRD has helped fund key affordable housing developments, the SNF planning studies, and more. These catalytic projects have spurred other investments from private parties, as well as City investments in parks, streetscapes, and small businesses.

“The incredible progress Detroit is making is a testament to both the city’s vision and to the power of leveraging HUD funding to advance inclusive community-driven growth and opportunity,” Deputy Secretary Todman said. “We now have a historic opportunity to improve the lives of families and communities across the whole country through the long-needed, once-in-a-generation investments in President Biden’s Build Back Better Agenda.”

Invest Detroit and the City have raised $58 million of their $59 million goals for the fund.

“The incredible progress we are making through programs like the Strategic Neighborhood Fund is the result of strong, trusting partnerships and deep, thoughtful community engagement,” said David Blaszkiewicz, president and CEO of Invest Detroit. “No agency or organization can do this work alone, and if we are to build a better city for all Detroiters, the voices of our residents are crucial.”

First stop: Livernois/McNichols

First up on the tour, Deputy Secretary Todman was taken down Livernois and McNichols avenues in the Live6 neighborhood, stopping to speak with community leaders, business owners, and residents. As part of SNF, Livernois received a $17 million streetscape between Margareta Street and Eight Mile Road. The complete makeover, which was designed with the input and approval of nearby residents, improved walkability, beautified the historic retail corridor, expanded sidewalks to allow for dining patios, and added bike lanes. The completion of a $7 million streetscape overhaul of McNichols (6 Mile Road), from Livernois to Wyoming, was celebrated by the community on Oct. 1. In all, seven streetscapes have been completed in SNF neighborhoods, with five more on the way.

“This neighborhood is primed for the many projects we have coming alive now and over the next few months,” said Dr. Geneva Williams, executive director of Live6 Alliance, a nonprofit planning and development organization in the neighborhood. “Businesses love it, residents love it, and there’s more coming in 2022, with a boom in commercial activity, facade grants, new business incentives, and a swath of new lower-cost housing. So much is happening in our communities, and the streetscapes are emblematic of the commitment the administration has to neighborhoods like ours throughout the city.”

Also highlighted along the Live6 tour were the 15 small businesses that have received Motor City Match grants through a program whose administration has been funded by $9.1 million in Community Development Block Grants. To date, the program has awarded $569,000 in philanthropic investment in Live6, leading to $3.63 million in investment just in Live6. Motor City Match, run by the Detroit Economic Growth Corporation, has given $8.1 million in grants and other assistance to 143 businesses across the city since the program was launched in 2015, including 57 in SNF neighborhoods. That $8.1 million has been leveraged into $41.5 million in investment in the city’s neighborhoods. In addition, hundreds of jobs have been created.

Also in Live6, the City has invested $1.6 million into stabilization of the Fitzgerald neighborhood. The City also used $741,725 in CDBG funds to create the Fitzgerald Greenway, turning vacant, blighted properties into a beautiful walking path that links the Marygrove and University of Detroit Mercy campuses. The Duggan administration also is tapping the City’s Bridging Neighborhoods and Rehabbed & Ready programs to rehab vacant homes in the Fitzgerald Community and sell them at prices many first-time home-buyers can afford.

Among the examples of how the investment has been leveraged, the HUD tour visited with developers Roderick Hardamon of URGE Holdings and George N’Namdi of N’Namdi Holdings at the future site of their new mixed-use, mixed-income project at 7303 W. McNichols. The two developers of color are building a mixed-use development that will offer 38 apartments, all designated as affordable housing as low as 60 percent area median income. The project, which will replace a longtime eyesore in the neighborhood, an abandoned gas station, and auto repair shop, is to break ground next month and open in early 2023.

Another example of how the federal seed money has led to further investment in Live6 is a $22 million early-childhood learning center on the campus of Marygrove College that opened last month, part of the Kresge Foundation’s $50 million commitment to the P-20 campus, the largest philanthropic investment to a single Detroit neighborhood in the city’s history.

Next stop: Islandview/Greater Villages

Leaving the west side, the tour bus then headed for another SNF neighborhood, Islandview/Greater Villages on the city’s east side.

The bus arrived on Kercheval Street, which, like other streetscape projects on the tour, saw a complete overhaul during a $7.8 million renovation. The group stopped at Butzel Playfield, which is wrapping up $1.43 million in park upgrades. Though not tapping federal funds, the project is a key step in improving the quality of life for eastsiders who call the neighborhood home. Butzel is getting new playgrounds, a Nature Imagination area, a walking loop, picnic and grilling areas, a sledding hill, drinking fountains, baseball diamond, and landscaping, including a corner entry plaza. Its picnic shelter, horseshoe pitch, and basketball court were renovated.

A block further down the Kercheval streetscape, the group then toured Parker Durand, a $23 million mixed-income, mixed-use development at Van Dyke and Kercheval that replaced a vacant lot on this key corner. Parker Durand, developed by Invest Detroit and The Roxbury Group, used $1.5 million in HOME funding, through HRD. The development features 46 affordable housing units at 60 percent area median income, 46 market-rate apartments, and ground-floor retail. By requiring affordability in such developments, the City is creating more equitable development and more cohesive, inclusive neighborhoods.

Motor City Match has helped 18 businesses open using $804,000 in philanthropic investment, leveraging that into a $8.09 million investment in the neighborhood. Other projects utilizing federal funds include $2 million in HOME funds for GenesisHOPE and $1 million in CDBG for an IVGV duplex project to help create first-time homeowners.

HRD also has stewarded $8.92 million in federal funds in the 10 SNF neighborhoods for lead abatement, 0 percent home repair loans and Public Facility Rehabilitation (PFR), helping Detroiters live in better quality homes and creating 300 jobs. Detroiters investing in their homes shows they have confidence in the future of their neighborhoods and the city.

“We showed the deputy secretary just two of the 10 SNF neighborhoods today,” said Donald Rencher, group executive of Planning, Housing & Development. “We’re going into neighborhoods all over the city and making the same kind of investments and engaging residents all along the way, ensuring that we are rebuilding back better and in a way that all Detroiters can take part in.”