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Mayor Touts Affordable Housing To Help Cut Poverty in Jackson

Derek Dobies, Jackson mayor
Reginald Hardwick
Jackson mayor Derek Dobies in the WKAR studios

Mayor  Derek Dobies said new jobs, small businesses and affordable housing in many neighborhoods will uplift the entire city of Jackson out of poverty in ten years.

Mayor Dobies gave his second State of the City address in a part of the city that is struggling.

“This neighborhood around the MLK center where we gathered tonight is hardest hit neighborhood. No question," said mayor Dobies. "It’s also where the average per capita income is a mere $9000 a year.”

While the average median household income in Michigan is $52,000 a year, in the city of Jackson, it is $31,000. s shared on Facebook. To address issues in neighborhoods, Dobies proposed the city focus on economic security and decreasing gun violence.

One way is through affordable housing. He says new units for low-income families and seniors will soon become available in both downtown Jackson and around the city.

Mayor Dobies also touted the city’s recently passed ordinance to help displaced renters. If city inspectors find serious code violations and it’s the landlord’s fault – that manager must pay to help house displaced tenants.

“Nobody... nobody should pay a high price for low standards," said mayor Dobies, who received a round of applause.

Minutes later he announced a more ambitious pledge.

"I’m going to make it a goal of our city to cut poverty in half over the next decade.”

The mayor and Jackson city council will hold a poverty summit this summer to align resources to combat the problem. Mayor Dobies touted many new businesses and jobs coming to Jackson.

He said the city will make plans for welcome recreational marijuana businesses now that it is legal statewide.

Mayor Dobies also said Jackson must tackle its food deserts to become a stronger city. Food deserts are isolated areas in an urban area where there are no grocery stores or places to buy affordable fresh food. The mayor says 6 areas of the city, including the downtown, are food deserts.

Dobies said he took a bus ride across town and heard from residents some of the challenges to buy fresh food.

“They spoke of the challenges of only being allowed 2 bags of groceries on the bus; of having to take multiple trips just to do their shopping; of sometimes having to pay the high cost of taxis to get their groceries home," said mayor Dobies.

Mayor Dobies said the city is exploring solutions to allow people to bring more groceries on city buses; as well as bring a new grocery store to downtown Jackson; and possibly bring a “mobile” market with fresh foods to neighborhoods.

In short, the mayor said for incomes in Jackson to rise – investment must be spread around the entire city.

“Our city is a family," said mayor Dobies in his closing remarks. "It's important that we understand that. And that we practice what we preach.”

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