Mayor Duggan announces leadership changes after Jemison’s departure for Biden-Harris administration

  • Arthur Jemison joins HUD’s Office of Community Planning & Development.
  • Donald Rencher, director of City’s Housing & Revitalization Department (HRD), to become new group executive for Housing, Planning & Development.
  • Deputy directors of Planning and HRD promoted to lead their departments on interim basis until national search is conducted.

The City of Detroit announced a series of organizational changes today following Arthur Jemison being tapped for a political appointment in the Biden-Harris administration.

Jemison will serve as the Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary in the Office of Community Planning & Development (CPD) at the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).

HUD’s Office of Community Planning and Development oversees over $8 billion in federal block grant funding to cities and states for community development projects and disaster response. CPD also oversees the HOME affordable housing program and various resources to help end homelessness and promote economic revitalization. Jemison’s last day with the City was Tuesday, and he took the oath of office Wednesday.

“I want to express my deepest gratitude to the mayor, the cabinet, my staff, the City Council, our partners in the community and, most of all, Detroiters for welcoming me and being such great partners in the work of building this City these past seven years,” Jemison said. “I am so proud of all we have accomplished working together in Detroit.”

Jemison brings to Washington a distinguished record. He started with the City during Detroit’s bankruptcy in 2014. Under Jemison’s leadership, and working with the Detroit City Council, more than 1,000 units of affordable housing were preserved; 2,800 units of market and affordable housing were completed or began construction; and more than $50 million in new grants and loans have been raised for affordable housing.

Jemison and his team also helped raise funds and implemented the Strategic Neighborhood Fund, which is transforming 10 neighborhoods of the City with over $50 million of grant funds raised with the corporate and philanthropic sector. Jemison also was integral to approval of Ford Motor Co.’s Michigan Central Station redevelopment, the FCA Jefferson North plant expansion, and Amazon’s new facilities in the city – major economic development projects that will bring more than 10,000 jobs to the City.

Most recently, Jemison was a key architect with the City’s chief financial officer on Proposal N, a $250 million ballot initiative passed by voters in November 2020 that will demolish or rehabilitate more than 16,000 vacant and abandoned houses and expand Detroit’s recovery to even more parts of the city.

“This news is a proud moment for our city,” Mayor Duggan said. “Detroit is quickly becoming a city where local, state and federal leaders nationally look to find talent, and Arthur has earned this incredible opportunity. Much of the redevelopment we are seeing in neighborhoods across the city are a direct result of his hard work, vision and leadership.

“It's already great to have Joe Biden–a dear friend of our city–as our new president. Also, having someone like Arthur, who understands the needs and potential of urban neighborhoods, in a position to help is even better." 

Donald Rencher, currently director of HRD, will become the new group executive for Housing, Planning & Development. Julie Schneider, who is the deputy director of HRD, will serve as acting director of the department. Katy Trudeau, currently deputy director of PDD, will become that department’s acting director.

In his new role as group executive, Rencher will be responsible for expanding, coordinating and increasing collaboration among key City departments and agencies, including Planning, Housing & Revitalization, and Arts & Culture. He will lead the City’s efforts to coordinate with the Bridging Neighborhoods program and independent agencies with which the City works most closely, including the Detroit Housing Commission. He also will oversee the Strategic Neighborhood Fund, and will continue to oversee the Affordable Housing Leverage Fund, which focuses on investing in the preservation and creation of affordable housing in neighborhoods across the city.

“Donald has proven himself as a leader who gets results and has made incredible progress in preserving and creating affordable housing in the city of Detroit,” Mayor Duggan said. “Under his leadership, the city has become a more equitable place to live, and he will bring those skills to new departments in his new role.”

“I am honored to be taking on this expanded role working for the citizens of Detroit, and I thank Mayor Duggan for entrusting me with this responsibility,” Rencher said. “Ensuring development and planning are conducted in an equitable way has always been one of my top priorities. I look forward to continuing the work that Arthur has started and will do my best in preparing Detroit for the future and working hard for the people of this city.”

Rencher has been with the City since 2015, and worked to develop inclusive housing and neighborhood redevelopment strategies, as well as led key programs such as eviction defense, homelessness response and more. He also developed strategy and guided investment of funding from HUD for community investment and housing and economic development. He has overseen more than $500 million in investments in mixed-income housing projects in the City. Before becoming HRD director in 2018, Rencher served as the department’s deputy director.

While deputy HRD director, Rencher and HRD staff helped drive the creation of the units Jemison worked to produce. Since 2018, Rencher helped the City win 19 highly competitive Low-Income Tax Credit (LITC) awards for low-income and affordable housing and oversaw the creation of an additional approximately 4,100 total units (1,000 affordable) and the preservation of over 4,100 more. Together, since 2015, over 5,100 units have been preserved; and 6,900 new units have been produced of which 1,600 are affordable.

Last year alone, despite the COVID-19 crisis, he oversaw the preservation of 683 units of affordable housing in Detroit and the start of construction on 732 additional units, either through preservation or new construction.

During the pandemic, his department helped provide 2,400 Detroit households with eviction prevention rental assistance, and the eviction prevention helpline received 18,000 calls. HRD also coordinated 4,274 COVID tests at homeless shelters, and brought online 174 additional beds and established a 125-bed COVID shelter for those afflicted.

Before arriving in Detroit, Rencher worked as a senior attorney for the Michigan State Housing Development Authority (MSHDA), where he served as lead counsel over the agency’s single-family housing portfolio. He was also responsible for housing discrimination-related cases and oversaw more than 50 large-scale multifamily real estate finance transactions. Rencher has his J.D. from Western Michigan University Law School and also is a graduate of the University of Michigan.

Media Contact
Dan Austin
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