Duggan wants to use federal relief funds to fight Detroit's intergenerational poverty

Sarah Rahal
The Detroit News

Detroit — Mayor Mike Duggan is expected to outline priorities Tuesday for the city's first infusion of $400 million in emergency coronavirus recovery funds.

His top focus, Deputy Mayor Conrad Mallett said, is fighting intergenerational poverty in the city.

Mayor Mike Duggan holds a $50 gift card on Wednesday, April 28, 2021 as he announced incentives for "good neighbors" who drive a Detroit resident to a vaccination site.

Duggan, during a virtual presentation at 7 p.m. Tuesday, will outline how the city plans to invest in neighborhoods, along with parks, recreation and cultural assets. Federal funding also will be directed toward public safety, to help "close the digital divide" and provide small business support, Mallett told The Detroit News Monday.

"All six categories tie back to number one, fighting intergenerational poverty, literally for the city of Detroit to progress," Mallett said. "Just like with the vaccine effort, we're not going to leave anybody behind. We are going to attempt to improve the lives of Detroiters across the board, not just the for the fortunate few."

Tuesday's meeting is the first of 25 meetings planned for Detroiters over 25 days to gather input on how the funds should be spent, city officials said. 

The U.S. Treasury Department this month began releasing $350 billion in recovery funds to states and localities, including over $6.54 billion for the state government of Michigan and nearly $826.7 million allocated for Detroit.

The funding flows from President Joe Biden's American Rescue Plan passed by Congress in March. It is intended to help plug revenue shortfalls that state and local governments experienced as a result of the pandemic and to aid in local response to COVID-19.

Detroit endured a massive financial blow from COVID-19 that cost the city more than $410 million in revenues over a 16-month span. 

Officials have said the federal funding will help address shortfalls prompted by mandatory state-imposed shutdowns. 

Detroit's Acting Chief Financial Officer Jay Rising has noted there are four eligible categories for the funding: responding to public health emergencies with assistance to households, nonprofits and industries; premium pay; water and sewer infrastructure; and for governmental services to address Detroit's COVID-19-induced revenue reductions.

The money can't be used to bolster the city's pension funds.

Rising has said the cumulative impact of the pandemic into 2024 on the general fund could reach $600 million. 

On Tuesday, the mayor will discuss the possibility of expanding the Community Health Corps., an initiative launched in August to connect Detroit's most impoverished residents to resources to keep them housed, working and current on utility and water bills, Mallett said. 

Duggan, Mallett added, is also expected to talk about the prospect of securing a major investment in jobs and training. Expanding community access to the internet is another critical need.

"We now have this profoundly wonderful opportunity to work together, coordinate our efforts across the board, state, county and local municipalities to deliver services that are designed in a way to make a direct effect," Mallett said. "We have an opportunity to make things profoundly better."

Residents can join the meeting at 7 p.m. Tuesday via Zoom at www.detroitmi.gov/arpa-metting or dial into the meeting at (312) 626-8592. It will also be broadcasted on the city's Facebook and YouTube pages.


Twitter: @SarahRahal_