Mayor Duggan: The Cure for Poverty is JobsMarch 1, 2016
Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan says the cure for addressing poverty in the city’s neighborhoods is more job creation. Duggan participated in a one-on-one interview with Stephen Henderson of the Detroit Free Press on the main stage a day after delivering his State of the City address.
“You can’t just care enough and snap your fingers and poverty goes away. We have to have a strategy,” he said.
More than 8,000 Detroiters are employed today than were two years ago, according to Duggan, who cautioned that the city can’t become complacent while he encouraged local business owners to develop training programs to attract and retain talented workers.
“We’re making progress, but it’s a week at a time,” Duggan said, pointing to the fact that the city has dramatically sped up the review and licensing process for new businesses.
The Mayor cited Shinola and Sakthi Automotive Group’s success as positive examples. Combined, the companies employ over 1,100 Detroiters. He also emphasized the importance of programs like Motor City Match, which provides funding and tools for entrepreneurs investing in job creation beyond downtown and midtown.
In addressing a question on what the city is doing for residents at risk of foreclosure and unable to pay water bills, Duggan said his administration worked collaboratively with state and federal lawmakers to develop a program that allowed 36,000 of the city’s 40,000 occupied properties facing foreclosure to sign up for a five-year repayment plan. He said he’s particularly proud of the collaboration between city leaders and lenders that resulted in the recently announced Detroit Home Mortgage initiative.
Other successes include increased police and EMS response times, reducing home foreclosures and demolishing over 7,000 blighted properties, which highlights the tremendous improvement the city has made under the Mayor’s leadership. Duggan said the city will increase its police force by 200 officers this year, bringing the total to 2,500. He also highlighted the success of the Detroit Police Department’s Green Light program.
Despite the progress, Duggan said education reform and a $409 million pension shortfall by 2024 for retirees are two obstacles for Detroit’s momentum that the city will have to address this year.