By Lindsay Keener
A call-to-action has been issued to Detroit voters concerning a controversial addition to the upcoming November ballot.
The Detroit City Council voted Tuesday to include Mayor Mike Duggan’s revamped $250 million blight bond proposal on this year’s voting slip. The 5-4 decision came with discord as some city officials questioned the project’s readiness.
Proposal N, Duggan’s method for bettering Detroit neighborhoods, offers improved objectives inspired by the concerns raised in 2019. The reconfigured plan is funded by unlimited tax general obligation bonds. A designated amount of $160 million would go towards the demolition of 8,000 destroyed homes while $90 million would be for the repair of 8,000 better-constructed buildings. More than half of the construction would be spear-headed by Detroit contractors, a welcomed change by council members who found issue with the lack of inclusion last year.
Not all council members were in agreement with Tuesday’s outcome. Detroit City Council President Pro Tem Mary Sheffield believes time is of the essence.
“This is a very complex issue and I think it warrants additional time and more engagement with the community,” Sheffield said. “I’m not fighting against contractors or job creation or against blight, but I am definitely for using this position as an opportunity to make sure we have the best guarantees in place.”
Sheffield is not alone in her assessment. Council President Brenda Jones, Raquel Castañeda-López, and James Tate also had mixed reviews on the new plan’s effectiveness and voted against the implementation of Proposal N on November’s ballot. Wanting to ensure voters had the opportunity to take action into their own hands, Detroit council members Andre Spivey, Gabe Leland, Scott Benson, Roy McCalister Jr., and Janeé Ayers voted to put the proposal on the ballot.
Despite the changes made to the proposal, it still faces a variety of obstacles. Detroit is riddled with 22,000 abandoned homes – 14,000 calling to be demolished. Duggan’s current plan cannot fund the additional construction.