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Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan announces summer youth employment initiative, $100 lot-next-door program at Mackinac Policy Conference

From: MLive

By David Muller

May 28, 2014

MACKINAC ISLAND — It was only a year ago that Mayor Mike Duggan was at the Mackinac Policy Conference as a regular citizen, and shortly afterward he was unsure of his political career’s future.

But on Wednesday Duggan highlighted a series of accomplishments since he took office after being removed from the mayoral ballot and then successfully running as a write-in candidate to be Detroit’s executive, and he announced new initiatives that he said go along with his administration’s singular focus to repopulate a city that has lost more than half its population since the 1950s.

One effort, called TeenWork Detroit, is an employment program with the goal of hiring 5,000 youths for summer jobs in 2015 with the help of millions of dollars worth in federal community block grants. With the money, the city is paying for half of each youth’s summer employment.

Duggan said it typically costs about $2,000 to employ a teen for an eight-week summer job. Detroit’s teen unemployment is estimated to be as high as 50 percent, he said.

“I know what this means. When I started at (Detroit Medical Center) in the first year, we started a summer jobs program, and we hired 100 kids for the summer,” Duggan said. “And the hospital president said to me, ‘What can I do with these kids?’ By the end of the summer the kids had become so valuable they didn’t’ want to let them go back to school.”

Nine years later, DMC is still running the program, he said.

Duggan’s staffers were handing out cards and pencils to attendees of the policy conference, asking for commitment from employers to hire Detroit youths between June and August next summer.

After a keynote address, he stood alongside Brenda Jones on the expansive porch of the Grand Hotel, in another show of solidarity between the mayor’s office and City Council. The two units have historically had a contentious relationship, but the story coming out of Detroit, and carried over onto Mackinac Island, is that Duggan’s office and Council have worked together to accomplish a series of things.

One such effort, highlighted by Duggan Wednesday, is the city’s swift transfer of thousands of derelict properties to a newly created Detroit Land Bank Authority. Dozens of those properties have since been part of a city-run auction, hosted by the website

A first round auctioned off homes in Detroit’s East English Village neighborhood, and many of the homes sold for upwards of $30,000. An auction of homes in the Boston-Edison and Osborn neighborhoods is under way now through mid-June. Duggan has said in the past he wants to auction off up to 300 abandoned homes.

It’s part of the city’s effort to clean up neighborhoods by putting people in homes and reducing blight in a city that has 40,077 blighted structures and another 38,429 abandoned properties.

And on Wednesday, Duggan announced a new measure that looks to take more properties off the government rolls and put them into to people’s hands with a lot-next-door program. Duggan said that in June the city will be posting notes on the doors of occupied properties next to houses that are going to be demolished, telling them that they can apply for a deed to that property for $100.

“How much better will the neighborhoods be?” Duggan said. “We have a plan.”

Other highlights from Duggan:

6,000 new lights since the establishment of a city lighting authority, which has the goal of fixing 500 streetlights a week, and ultimately going through every neighborhood that needs repair by the end of next year.
Ambulance response times have been shorter, and should be at the national average by the end of the year. In January the response time averaged about 18 minutes. Since then, the city has overhauled the system, hired new EMTs and ordered new ambulances. In April, the response time fell to about 14 minutes, and last week, for first time, it was under 13 minutes.
Last year the city only maintained 125 of 275 parks, this year 186 parks maintained by city. The city is well on its way to have 256 parks open.