Todd Spangler, Detroit Free Press, September 26, 2013
Nearly $300 million in aid for Detroit—from federal and state coffers, private businesses and charitable foundations—will be announced Friday as Obama administration officials visit the city to discuss what can be done to help eradicate blight, improve transportation, encourage new business and make residents safer.
The funding will include $150 million in blight eradication and community redevelopment, including $65 million in Community Development Block Grant funding—which had already been awarded over two years but could not be accessed by the city. An additional $25 million could help hire as many as 150 firefighters in the city.
Some $24 million in federal resources that had been tied up will go to repairing buses and installing security cameras, part of an overall $140-million investment in transit systems. And several charitable groups — the Ford Foundation, Kresge Foundation and Knight Foundation—will put millions into spurring entrepreneurship and creating jobs.
Gene Sperling, the head of President Barack Obama’s National Economic Council and an Ann Arbor native, briefed reporters on some the plans Thursday evening, saying Friday’s meeting at Wayne State University is “the first of many efforts that the administration will engage in with the city of Detroit.”
Many details were still to come out Friday.
“We’ve found significant resources that we believe can be unlocked and expedited and leveraged to have significant impact on the economy of Detroit,” Sperling said.
Sperling wasn’t immediately able to break down just how much of the $300 million represents new funding and how much had already been awarded to Detroit but, for whatever reason, hadn’t reached the city before. But he said much of it represented an effort by adminisitration officials to scour their departments for funding that Detroit could access.
For instance, in the case of $25 million to be used for firefighters, the funding, Sperling said, had “been accumulating for years” but could not be accessed. The $65 million in CDBG funding includes $33 million that had been withheld from the last fiscal year because the city did not meet required obligations to access it.