Detroit Future City creates department to address economic equity

Candice Williams
The Detroit News

Detroit — A nonprofit tracking economic equity in Detroit and the region is expanding its work with the creation of a new department.

Detroit Future City has formed the Center for Equity, Engagement and Research. The nonprofit made the announcement Wednesday as it held its first equity forum.

“Through DFC’s research, we have noted several startling economic inequities that are plaguing our region’s growth and the prosperity of its residents,” said Anika Goss, DFC’s executive director, in a press release. “After three years of developing relevant and thought-provoking research, DFC realized we needed to strengthen this work to drive measurable change and impact.

“Through the formation of the Center, DFC will use evidence-based research and employ our engagement work to set benchmarks, track progress, involve stakeholders and, most importantly, hold our region accountable for achieving this critically important goal of economic equity.”

Among findings in Detroit Future City’s research: 25% of Detroit households are middle class, compared with 38% of households in the region. Nearly 40% of Detroit residents live in areas of concentrated poverty. The organization considers the majority of the city’s population also vulnerable because more than half of its residents are renters.

The organization took a year to plan for the new department, which was funded through seed money from the Hudson-Webber Foundation and the Kresge Foundation.

Detroit Future City is in the process of hiring a director to lead the center, a division of the organization. The center will also have a resident-scholar program designed to attract national experts on equitable economic development to the city.

Detroit Future City launched in 2013 tasked with stewarding a 50-year vision for the City of Detroit, called the Detroit Future City Strategic Framework.

In 2016, the organization became an independent nonprofit. In 2017, it released a five-year strategic plan that called for using open space as part of land-use policy, improving existing single-family rental properties and reducing stormwater overflows. 

In the last three years, DFC also released three publications: “139 Square Miles,” “Growing Detroit’s African-American Middle Class,” and “The 2019 Detroit Reinvestment Index.”

Twitter: @CWilliams_DN