The Equity Factor

White House Sending $300 Million in New and Unlocked Grants to Detroit

Detroit’s not getting a bailout, per se, but it is getting some help from Washington. The White House will today announce roughly $300 million in grants from the Obama administration and private foundations to go to the bankrupt city that’s now under emergency financial management.

The funds range from $65 million in Community Development Block Grants for blight eradication, housing rehab and neighborhood revitalization to $30 million for improving public safety. The Justice Department will contribute $3 million for hiring new police officers, establishing a bike patrol, and supporting prisoner reentry and youth anti-violence programs.

“You have nearly $300 million in resources that are being expedited, pledged, re-purposed for the economic development and revitalization of Detroit,” White House National Economic Council director Gene Sperling told reporters last night. Much of the cash had been awarded in past years, but Washington will speed up the process of getting that money, plus a little extra, to the Motor City.

Detroit will also receive a much-needed $140 million for improving transportation. The feds have unlocked a $25 million TIGER grant for the M1 rail project, which leaders hope will help them leverage more than $100 million in private and philanthropic investment. Another $6.4 million will go toward funding the new Regional Transit Authority for a bus rapid transit system.

It’s not all federal money. The Skillman Foundation will fork over $1.35 million in the next six months for neighborhood safety and community policing. The Ford Foundation will give $1.5 million to the Detroit Land Bank Authority between 2014 and 2018. There is about $15 million total in private and philanthropic dollars.

The White House won’t say how much of the $300 million is new money and how much had previously been rewarded. But lawmakers and residents should be pleased that Washington has at least cut away the red tape to give Detroit a significant influx of cash at a time when money is short.

The Equity Factor is made possible with the support of the Surdna Foundation.

Bill Bradley is based in Brooklyn. His writing has appeared in The Daily, Bloomberg Businessweek, GQ.com and Vanity Fair, among others. Follow him on Twitter @billbradley3.

Tags: economic development, policy, washington, d.c., equity factor, detroit, barack obama, hud, redevelopment, tiger grants, shaun donovan