President Obama is offering $320 million in federal aid to help bring Detroit back to life. The funding will help pay for renovation of the decaying buildings marring the landscape of the once-vibrant city, as well as the hiring of safety officials such as police officers and firefighters. Some of the money will also go toward transportation maintenance.
“We’re going to continue to support the efforts under way in Detroit and ensure the federal government is an active partner in supporting the revitalization of the city,” said Gene Sperling, director of the National Economic Council.
He continued, “This effort is about lifting up Detroit, and committing to a shared, long-term investment that will enable the businesses and residents in Detroit to expand opportunity and renew this world-class city.”
Detroit, dubbed “Motor City” in its heyday, officially filed for bankruptcy this summer, unable to pay more than $18 billion dollars worth of debt. The city could no longer afford to provide the basic needs of residents, such as emergency response and public transit.
$150 million of the federally allotted funds will go toward demolition of unsafe buildings and community redevelopment. The city is plagued with nearly 150,000 abandoned properties, with a vacant landscape the size of the entire borough of Manhattan.
Despite the modest aid, the White House has made it clear that Detroit will not receive a full bailout.
White House press secretary Jay Carney said, “The issue here of the insolvency and dealing with that is one that Detroit and Detroit’s creditors will have to resolve. We will be of assistance in general, both in terms of policy as well as just being a partner with Detroit as Detroit finds its way and moves forward in the coming weeks, months and years.”
Detroit was once a bustling auto-manufacturing city, but was devastated after American car companies abandoned the area — often moving manufacturing overseas for cheaper labor.