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Proposed state budge...

Monday, Michigan lawmakers will continue discussing ways to balance the state's budget and prevent another government shutdown.
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MSHDA PDF Print E-mail
Written by Taylor Parker   
Friday, 17 July 2009 15:04

The Michigan State Housing Development Authority (MSHDA) was established in 1966 and is a program designed to provide technical and financial assistance to construct and maintain adequate and safe housing, address homeless issues, bring community members together for economic development, and to create effervescent and interesting communities. MSHDA is financed by taxable bond which are tax-exempt, allowing it to operate efficiently without the use of state revenue. These proceeds are loaned out to rental property developers at below-market interest rates to enhance Michigan communities through the funding for mortgages and home improvement loans.


On April 10, 2009, Keith Molin, the executive director of MSHDA announced that Michigan's homeless will be assisted through the organizations Emergency Shelter Grants (ESG) and Rural Homeless Initiative, which have been worked into the 2009 fiscal year. The funds total in $7.8 million, which will be allocated throughout the state. This funding will provide assistance to over 79,000 of Michigan's homeless.


Michigan Main Street Center Revitalizes Michigan Downtown Areas PDF Print E-mail
Written by Taylor Parker   
Wednesday, 15 July 2009 23:00

The Michigan Main Street Center (MMS) is a program of Specialized Technical Assistance and Revitalization Strategy (STARS) at MSHDA that makes it goal to revitalize and improve downtown areas throughout Michigan, including the redevelopment of residential, commercial, and other properties. STARS promotes downtown living in many areas, the cultural assets, and business development in cities selected through the competitive application process of the MMS program. The program uses a 4-Point approach to revitalize the assisted communities. The 4-Point Approach is:

1.    Design
This part of the approach capitalizes on the all of the assets of the community, including important and historic buildings to create an inviting atmosphere that can be well sustained.
2.    Economic Restructuring
This part of the approach helps promote local businesses and to bring news ones, filling unused space for a thriving downtown.
3.    Promotion
This part of the approach using public relations to promote the area, enticing people to come to the downtown area.
4.    Organization
This part of the approach uses all the assets of downtown, mainly the people and stakeholders, to volunteer to work on their community through the MMS program under the bearing of standing committees and a governing board, with the guidance of a employed program director.
STARS also controls two other programs: Blueprints for Michigan’s Downtowns and Downtown Market Analyses.


Transportation Improvement Legislation PDF Print E-mail
Written by manager   
Thursday, 11 June 2009 18:05

The House Transit Committee is currently reviewing a package of bills that will address how the state will pay for transportation infrastructure; the bills deal with mass transit and the possibility of local financing options. The three bills are to 1) create a tax increment finance authority, 2) create transit regionalization grant program, and 3) spend $50 million on new transportation service programs, including expansion of bus systems and include rail services.

The legislation requires metro planning organizations to plan its own improvements, either through one agency of with the assistance of several. If the planning organization doesn't request a grant to start improvements within 2 years, the transit authority will receive the grant and will take over the planning of improvements and the state reserves the right to stop matching funding for other projects.

Rep. Marie Donigan (D-Royal Oak), the creator of the bill requesting $50 million for improvements, is concerned that without the requested funding, it will be impossible to modernize the aging transportation systems in Michigan. She also expressed the need for the Cobo Center of Detroit to be expanded and to be better connected to airports, an issue that will hopefully be resolved if the bill passes through congress.

Ronald DeCook, the Department of Transportation Director of Government Affairs, said that legislation has the goal of allowing metro areas to develop their own transit system to meet individual needs.

Opposition to the transportation legislation which calls for a gas tax increase, came from the Michigan Petroleum Association and the Michigan Association of Convenience Stores.

"The upcoming Memorial Day holiday finds Michigan travel down with motorists finding it more difficult to make ends meet. With a worsening economy, our auto industry in a free-fall and the unemployment rate in Michigan expected to rise to record levels, now is not the time to add more tax burdens on Michigan motorists by increasing motor fuel taxes," president Mark Griffin said.

Legislators and others in support of these bills anticipate revitalized communities, economic growth, and new jobs across the state with the passing of bills HB 4965, HB 4966, and HB 4967.


Sources: Transit Investment Zones" HB 4967 Legislative Analysis
"Committee Takes First Step on Transportation Package by Mulling Transit" Gongwer May 21, 2009

Metro Detroit Ranked on Key Policy Areas PDF Print E-mail
Written by manager   
Wednesday, 03 June 2009 23:48

On Friday, May 29, 2009, the Metro Detroit One D Scorecard was released, outlining Detroit's rankings among other metro areas in five key areas: economic prosperity, education preparedness, transit, quality of life, and race relations. Seventy-five measurements were taken to ensure accurate findings, overall placing Detroit right in the middle of the pack with mainly mediocre results, but also including rather high and some devastating low rankings.

Edsel B. Ford, the chariman of One D, said, "Given all that the region has been through recently, it is reassuring that the results show that the region is in the middle of the pack on the majority of indicators."

Although the average ranking of the overall state of Detroit shows that the city is doing better than roughly half of the cities included in these rankings, it does not reflect the past of this once thriving city. From the once boobing auto industry, to the music of Motown, Detroit was once on of the wealthiest cities in the country and a great place to raise a family. Now with a population under a million, 2 of the 3 major automakers filing chapter 11 bankruptcy, and one of the highest unemployment rates in the nation, Detroit is not the city it once was and action needs to be taken to bring the city back to greatness.

In the category of economic prosperity, Detroit ranks 29th (of the 54 Metro areas ranked) in per capita income and 53rd in total job loss, greatly due to closing factories in the area. Also with only 12 percent of the cities population between the ages of 25-34, Detroit is not seeing a large number of college graduates staying or coming back to the area. However, Detroit was ranked 7th in creative and art related business, 10th in Science and Engineering employment, with the 2nd largest number of engineers thanks to companies like GM and Ford.

In education preparedness, Detroit ranks 25th in the number of adults with college degrees (29 percent), with only 69 percent of adults holding a High School diploma. The city is also ranked 49th in growth of university appropriations, a number that needs to be raised especially with Detroit's great universities, such as Detroit Mercy and Wayne State.

Transit is well below average rankings, Detroit being ranked 1st in number of alone drivers and 50th in carpooling numbers. The city was also ranked 38th in walking to work, a number that needs to be raised in a city ranked 5th in most obese population with 30.4% of residents diagnosed as obese, according to a study by Forbes.

In the category of Quality of Life, Detroit ranks very low with a volunteering rate of only 27 percent, which may be directly related to the 33 percent of the population living below the poverty line.



Michigan Suburbs Alliance PDF Print E-mail
Friday, 01 May 2009 02:26

The Michigan Suburbs Alliance was formed in June of 2002, when 14 mature suburbs of metro Detroit unanimously agreed to establish an alliance. The organization was established with the goal of uniting the 1.9 million inhabitants within the cities to demand an end to the systematic disinvestment in older cities. The 14 city managers and mayors decided that regional cooperation would be necessary in achieving their goals. The Michigan Suburbs Alliance has grown to include 31 mature suburbs and works to facilitate local action and collaboration.

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Michael Raley is a fourth year Sociology and Public Administration/Public Policy student at Michigan State University. He is especially interested in the public policy, politics, and sociology of urban space, as well as transportation systems and public transit. A native of the Grand Rapids area, Michael is currently an intern in the office of State Representative Roy Schmidt, who represents the west and northeast sides of the city. He also aspires to pursue a career in urban and regional planning, and hopes to attend graduate school for such a course of study.

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