Following the recent recession, some 40 percent of Detroit citizens live in poverty, 20 percent are without a bank account, 66 percent have subprime or no credit scores, and 68 percent are delinquent on debt. This financial instability, combined with high property tax rates, has led to foreclosures and blight in the city. Detroit is one of three cities to have taken part in the Chief Service Officer Leadership Initiative. Through this program, the city installed a Chief Service Officer who developed the first citywide service plan. This plan engages with citizens to help keep people in their homes by reducing the number of tax foreclosed properties and mitigating blight in neighborhoods.
Detroit has been a member of the Cities of Service coalition since 2009, when former Mayor Dave Bing signed the Declaration of Service. Current Mayor Mike Duggan reaffirmed the city’s commitment to service when he signed the Declaration again in 2016.
Mayor Michael E. Duggan
A Detroit native, Mayor Mike Duggan has spent 32 years of his career collaborating with others to solve some of the city’s most vexing issues. His citywide service plan will leverage the resources of local government, citizen volunteers, and corporate and faith-based volunteers to create a strategy that can successfully tackle blight, public lighting, transportation, and public safety.
Chief Service Officer Victoria Kovari
Chief Service Officer Victoria Kovari leverages the strength of the Department of Neighborhoods to coordinate all community engagement and volunteering activities in the city, with a focus on reducing blight and preventing crime. In this role, Kovari serves as a champion for resident volunteers, a voice for the mayor, a partner to city agencies, and a conduit for businesses and community groups.
What's Happening in Detroit
Chief Service Officer Leadership Initiative
Through the Chief Service Officer Leadership Initiative, Victoria Kovari was established as Detroit's first Chief Service Officer and developed the city's first service plan. With the city’s new service plan, two new Impact Volunteering initiatives were created: We Want You to Stay and Sustaining and Aligning Blight Fighting Efforts. In addition, the Claim Your Refund initiative, which was already in existence, was integrated into the city's citizen volunteerism activities. Through this work, the city engages citizens and provides the resources they need to tackle tax foreclosure and neighborhood revitalization.
reduction in the number of occupied properties that entered into 2017 County Tax Auction, when compared to 2016
The city engaged citizen volunteers to achieve this reduction, including 50 volunteers who knocked more than 5,000 doors in May of 2017 to provide residents with information on how to avoid tax foreclosure and help them attend a local foreclosure prevention workshop.
“Leveraging the resources of our resident volunteers, coupled with volunteers in the business and faith community, will enable us to create a partnership that can successfully tackle our most pressing problems.”
Mayor Michael E. Duggan