A coterie of top White House officials will meet Friday in Detroit to discuss giving the troubled city roughly $300 million in federal grants to address various public safety issues.
White House officials expected to participate in Friday’s meeting include Attorney General Eric Holder, Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx, Housing and Urban Development Secretary Shaun Donovan and White House economic adviser Gene Sperling.
“Obviously, with Holder, Donovan and Foxx there many of those issues around housing and public safety will be something we want to discuss,” an official told the Washington Examiner. “The meeting will follow-up on discussions already in the works and take a look at what are the federal resources that we can free up and if we can coordinate among agencies and see how we can help.”
Republican Governor Rick Snyder, Detroit Mayor David Bing and Detroit’s emergency manager Kevyn Orr are expected to attend the meeting, along with Michigan’s two U.S. senators and members of Michigan’s congressional delegation if they can break away from the ongoing discussion over a possible government shutdown.
“If we’re not there we’ll teleconference,” U.S. Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) said. “I think what is really important is there is an ongoing commitment from the administration.”
The $300 million will be drawn from programs intended for cities all across the country, not just Detroit. A portion of the $300 million was previously awarded to the city but it had gotten tied up in red tape.
“We’ve found significant resources that we believe can be unlocked and expedited and leveraged to have significant impact on the economy of Detroit,” Sperling said.
The meeting will address how much assistance the White House can offer the city without having to consult Congress, CNN Money reported.
Nearly $150 million of the proposed $300 million will go toward the demolition of Detroit’s many dilapidated and abandoned buildings.
Another $140 million will go toward the city’s public transportation system, including renovations for buses (including more security cameras) and the city’s now-under construction light-rail system.
Lastly, approximately $30 million will go toward hiring more firefighters to help the city deal with its arson problem and $3 million will go toward strengthening the city’s police force.
But although the funds may come as a blessing, they won’t even come close to addressing the city’s $18 billion in liabilities.
Detroit was forced in July to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection after two municipal pension funds moved to protect retiree benefits from restructuring by suing the city’s emergency manager.
The White House has not yet announced broader financial support for Detroit. Something larger would involve Congress and many say the Obama administration prefers smaller, legal ways to help the city.
“We’re not talking about a huge amount of money here,” said a source familiar with the situation. “[The Obama administration] is just trying to work with local and city officials to get a quick win on the table without a lot a major investment.”
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