What Do They Do?
HRD sustains and grows neighborhoods by providing access to decent and affordable housing options. The department works to increase options for families, work with commercial districts, protect affordable and historic housing options, ensure housing is welcoming to diverse populations, and invest in housing support for the homeless. This work is done through the managing of federal housing funds; finding economic and community development funding; steering local housing policy; and creating and maintaining housing opportunities for families in need through private (businesses) and public (government) sector partnerships. The Federal, State, and County governments have various housing policies and requirements. For example, the Federal government is also the provider of Section 8 Low Income Housing as well as discounted housing for older adults. So, a key component of HRD’s work is not only to communicate and work with the other levels of government but also to be aware of the rules and regulations of those levels so that local development occurs without violating their policies.
How Is The Department Organized?
The HRD is led by a director who leads the work of five divisions:
- Administration and Finance
- Policy Development and Implementation
- Public-Private Partnerships
- Housing Underwriting
- Community Development
The Detroit Housing Commission (DHC)
Michigan’s Housing Facilities Act of 1933 allowed cities to establish Housing Commissions which can purchase, construct, and maintain housing facilities as well as work with the federal government to fund those projects. Detroit’s Housing Commission was established in 1933 and has a five member board that is appointed by Detroit’s mayor (though it is independent from the city). One of those members must be a current resident of public or subsidized housing. It is part of HRD’s role to work with DHC and its board to operate rental assistance programs, such as Section 8 Housing, and other subsidized housing programs. DHC also facilitates programs and services for residents, and develops new housing opportunities for low-income families and individuals.
How Can I Get Involved?
DHC board meetings occur monthly, are open to the public, and their schedule is posted on the DHC website. Attend a meeting to hear more about low-income housing work in Detroit. Remember, DHC’s board is appointed, which means the Mayor selects people to be on the board and you could be one of those people. Learn more about becoming appointed to boards in Chapter 3, Lesson 4. The Housing and Revitalization Department has hosted public events to discuss housing, contact the department directly to learn about opportunities to connect with their work. Finally, a number of City Council Committees address different components of housing: the Planning and Economic Committee discusses new building projects and other city planning; the Neighborhood and Community Services Committee discusses resources and needs in neighborhoods; and the Internal Operations Committee is responsible for human rights issues. If your housing concern connects to any of these committees, attend their meetings and share your thoughts.