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The head of a Metro Detroit non-profit social services agency that’s in charge of distributing federal stimulus funds says the COVID-19 pandemic has left many people struggling to meet basic needs.

The Wayne Metropolitan Community Action Agency was allotted $11 million in CARES Act funds to distribute to households in Wayne County. $8 million of that is reserved for the city of Detroit.

Wayne County Executive Warren Evans is optimistic about the county’s fight with COVID-19.

Wayne County is the hardest hit by the COVID-19 pandemic in Michigan. The city of Detroit and Wayne County have a combined 16,970 positive coronavirus cases and 1,802 deaths linked to the disease.

But Evans says the county is making progress.

Warren Evans
Warren Evans on Instagram

Hiring and spending freezes are now in effect for Wayne County government. That’s under a new order signed by Wayne County Executive Warren Evans.

Wayne County officials forecast a revenue loss of at least $152 million because of the economic shutdown caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

prison bars
Flickr / http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

Eight staff members at the Wayne County Sheriff’s Department tested positive for the new coronavirus. At least seven of those employees have been in contact with other employees and inmates at the county jail.

Sheriff’s spokeswoman Pageant Atterberry says any inmate who shows symptoms of coronavirus infection is separated from the general population and sent to jail medical facilities. If needed, an inmate would be transported for treatment. So far, only one inmate has been examined and found not to be infected.

Wayne County

In an unprecedented move, the Wayne County Treasurer says he will halt all tax foreclosures this year due to impacts from the coronavirus outbreak.

“In light of the rapidly changing recommendations on social distancing and the increasing economic uncertainty we are all facing, I have had to make an urgent decision to protect all the taxpayers facing foreclosure in Wayne County,” Wayne County Treasurer Eric Sabree said in a statement. “Given the fact that all taxpayers will be facing economic hardships in the coming months, I have made the decision to withhold all properties from the 2020 foreclosure petition.”

cars in parking lot
Adobe Stock

A Wayne County program that targets cars suspected of drug activity or prostitution is an unconstitutional racket, according to a new federal lawsuit.

That lawsuit lays out how the county’s vehicle seizure unit regularly takes cars based on suspected criminal activity, even if no one is ever charged or convicted—and even if the car’s owner isn’t the one suspected of a crime.

SMART Bus
Mysid / Wikimedia Commons / http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

Wayne, Oakland, and Washtenaw counties hope that some proposed changes to state law will pave the way for an expanded regional transit system in southeast Michigan—minus Macomb County, for now.

The proposal involves changes to the state’s Municipal Partnership Act, which allows local government units to form partnerships for the purpose of funding and offering services such as transit. They would allow the three counties to create a regional entity that could levy and collect taxes to fund expanded regional transit.

Detroit Institute of Arts
Maia C/Flickr

The Detroit Institute of Arts is asking officials in Macomb, Oakland, and Wayne County to put a renewal of the museum’s millage on the March 2020 ballot. This request comes earlier than expected: the millage was first passed in 2012, and it was not set to lapse until 2022.


 

 

New Americans in Wayne County: The Demographic and Economic Contributions of Immigrants in the County / Wayne County

Immigrants are bringing outsized economic benefits to Wayne County, and helping offset an otherwise declining population in the state’s largest county.

That’s the conclusion of a new study the county commissioned from the group New American Economy.

Kym Worthy
Jodi Westrick / Michigan Radio

Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy says her office is still accepting donations to fund the investigation and prosecution of sexual assaults linked to a backlog of thousands of untested rape kits.

Erica Perez
Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

Can a county government seize a home for back taxes, sell it for price that exceeds the tax debt, and pocket the profits?

That issue is at the heart of the lawsuit that Erica Perez filed against Wayne County and County Treasurer Eric Sabree Tuesday.

foreclosure sign outside old home
Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

Detroit offers people living in poverty a 100% exemption on their property taxes. It’s Detroit’s local adaption of a state law. But many Detroiters living below the poverty line don’t know about it. 

Wayne County / via Facebook, used with permission

Governor Gretchen Whitmer declared a state of emergency in Wayne County on Thursday night, just hours after Wayne County Executive Warren Evans requested her to do so.

Emilio Gutierrez Soto
Mercedes Mejia / Michigan Radio

Today on Stateside, we talk with Congresswoman Debbie Dingell about efforts to halt the deportation of Mexican journalist and University of Michigan Knight-Wallace Fellow Emilio Gutierrez Soto. Plus, we check in with Wayne County Executive Warren Evans about the state of the county's finances.

Listen above for the full show, or find individual segments below.

Political roundup: Unlimited medical benefits, lack of transparency contribute to high auto insurance rates

Warren Evans
Warren Evans on Instagram

Wayne County Executive Warren Evans highlighted property values and taxes in his State of the County address Thursday.

Evans was a guest on Stateside Friday. He said property tax revenues are down in Wayne County.


Multiple potholes along a concrete road.
User: Pearl Pirie / Flickr - http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

Today on Stateside, Benton Harbor's emerging problem with lead in drinking water, and what it tells us about the risk of lead in other Michigan communities. Plus, the city of Midland is documenting its unique, and massive, treasure trove of mid-century modern architecture. So far, they've found more than 400 structures. 

Listen to the full show above or find individual segments below. 

foreclosure sign in front of house
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

The city of Detroit runs an annual property tax-exemption program for its lowest-income homeowners. The deadline is Monday, but many qualified residents don't know about it or struggle with their applications.

They risk heading into foreclosure and eventually seeing their homes sold in the Wayne County Tax Foreclosure Auction.

Melissa Benmark / Michigan Radio

A pilot project in western Wayne County will offer people struggling with opioid addiction a possible path to recovery.

The Rescue Recovery program will provide people referred from St. Mary Mercy Livonia hospital or one of 18 participating law enforcement agencies with the opportunity to go through specialized detoxification treatment at the hospital.

ballot
Emma Winowiecki / Michigan Radio

The Wayne County Board of Canvassers heard what went wrong with the county’s election results website last Tuesday, as questions and concerns linger about problems with the Aug. 7 primary election.

Detroit brought in new voting equipment for 2017 elections after rampant problems with 2016 vote.
Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

The Wayne County Board of Canvassers wants to know what went wrong with the county’s election website during last week’s primary.

The board is expected to meet Monday with the CEO of ElectionSource, the Grand Rapids-based company that runs the county’s election results reporting website, to try and get answers.

City of Detroit

After years of being ravaged by property tax foreclosures that claimed more than one in three city homes,  Detroit will see fewer than 5,000 properties go to the annual Wayne County tax auction this fall.

The county announced preliminary 2018 tax foreclosure numbers Friday. They show the county is set to foreclose on 4,676 properties this year, with 1,499 of them occupied properties.

Don...The UpNorth Memories Guy... Harrison / http://bit.ly/1xMszCg

Want to buy an abandoned psychiatric hospital in Michigan? It might only cost you one dollar.

 

At least, that was the price tag for the dilapidated site of the once-sprawling Eloise Hospital Complex located in and owned by Wayne County. The site was purchased by Southfield-based Morgan Development Thursday after about a year of discussion.

 

The incomplete Wayne County jail.
Wayne County

A long-standing jail problem in Wayne County may be resolved.

By a 14-to-1 vote, the Wayne County Commission has approved a deal with Dan Gilbert’s private development company, Rock Ventures, to build a new criminal justice center on East Warren Avenue near the I-75 service drive.

An abandoned and boarded up house in Detroit
University of Michigan School for Environmental and Sustainability / Flickr - http://bit.ly/1xMszCg

 


 

The first line of Sarah Alvarez's report in Bridge Magazine packs quite a punch: "Antoinette Coleman lost her home for less than the cost of an iPhone."

 

That price tag was just $291 to be exact.

wikimedia commons

Stateside's Cynthia Canty recently spoke with David Carroll of the 6th Amendment Center about its new report, which concludes that public defenders in Wayne County are overworked, underpaid, and under-resourced.

He says there are only 16 public defenders for Wayne County when there should be 30.

Their caseloads are 145% of the national average, and they have no secretaries, paralegals or investigators.

They're also grossly underpaid.

The incomplete Wayne County jail.
Wayne County

The Wayne County Commission sealed a deal to swap some land with the city of Detroit Thursday.

It’s part of a larger deal that has the county partnering with billionaire Dan Gilbert to build a new $533 million criminal justice center.

The land swap deal with Detroit gives Wayne County a spot to build a new jail and courthouse.

Kym Worthy (file photo).
Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

The last of over 11,300 rape kits discovered in a Detroit police facility are currently being processed by the Wayne County Prosecutor’s office.

614 kits remain, and they were shipped to Bode Cellmark Forensics and Sorenson Forensics labs for testing before they are reviewed by the Michigan State Police lab.

Gratiot construction site
Tony Brown / Michigan Radio

It looks like Wayne County may finally have a solution for its long-stalled jail project. The county has reached a tentative agreement with Dan Gilbert's Rock Ventures. Gilbert's company will construct a brand new $533 million "criminal justice center," pending approval from the county commission and building authority.

This Week in Review, Weekend Edition host Rebecca Kruth and senior news analyst Jack Lessenberry talk about the plan and what it could mean for Wayne County.


Gratiot construction site
Tony Brown / Michigan Radio

Type the words “fail jail” into a simple search and Google will immediately suggest: “Detroit.” The nickname refers to the downtown site at Gratiot and St. Antoine, where construction of what was supposed to be a new county jail began in 2011 but has been on pause since 2013.

That is, until Dan Gilbert takes over.

On Wednesday, Wayne County Executive Warren Evans announced a tentative deal with Gilbert’s Rock Ventures to transform the Gratiot site into a billion-dollar commercial development. 

Highland Park municipal building
City of Highland Park

Highland Park is a small city with a lot of vacant land. Now, it's trying to use that vacant space as an asset to lure developers.

At just under three square miles, the city is basically an enclave within the city of Detroit, along the central Woodward Avenue corridor. A once-prosperous city built on the backs of automakers, Highland Park is now close to economically destitute.

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