Thursday, December 13, 2018

Bridging the Del Ray and Warrendale neighborhoods

As plans were being finalized for the Gordie Howe International Bridge between Detroit, Michigan and Windsor, Ontario were being finalized, it became increasingly clear that life was going to become complicated for residents of the Delray neighborhood in southwest Detroit. Many of them were going to lose homes that had been in their family for generations to eminent domain. Still more residents would soon find their neighborhood congested with even more traffic and noise.

Rather than risk losing thousands of residents, Mayor Mike Duggan and his team stepped in with an innovative offer. Residents affected by the Gordie Howe International Bridge would be offered an opportunity to trade their home in Delray for another home in Warrendale or one of the other more stable neighborhoods in Detroit. This initiative became known as the Bridging Neighborhoods program.

I had a chance to sit down with Rico Razo, deputy director of the Bridging Neighborhoods program, to talk this initiative and how it fits into Mayor Duggan's overall plans to revitalize Detroit and her neighborhoods.

This home swap initiative has five key benefits for Detroit and her neighborhoods.
  1. Bridging Neighborhoods enables the city to retain long-time residents in her existing neighborhoods.
  2. Former Delray residents coming into Warrendale and other neighborhoods means as many as 600 currently vacant and blighted homes in Detroit's neighborhoods will be renovated and occupied by families who own their home and have a vested interest in the long-term health of their new neighborhood.
  3. Besides enabling Delray residents to escape the noise and pollution that will be inherent with the Gordie Howe International Bridge, these residents receive a fully renovated home that is up to code and energy efficient.
  4. Businesses in Warrendale and other neighborhoods gain thousands of new potential customers, which would enable them to expand and to hire new employees for the community. The addition of these new residents will also make it easier for new businesses to open and thrive in Detroit's neighborhoods.
  5. It will increase the population density in Detroit's neighborhoods, which will, in turn, enable the City of Detroit to deliver services more efficiently.
I would add that addressing the five issues above will better enable Detroiters to solve many of the other problems that still plague our community. All of this fits into Mayor Duggan's long-term plan to revitalize neighborhoods and to fulfill his campaign promise that every neighborhood has a future.

The City of Detroit produced the short video that is embedded above. As an aside, one can see Rico Razo welcoming a family to their new home at the 50-second mark on this video.

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