In brief

Kildee introduces bill to help Michigan homeowners

WASHINGTON — Congressman Dan Kildee (MI-05) today introduced the Revitalize America Act, his first bill as a member of Congress, which seeks to help reinvigorate and reinvest in America’s older industrial cities — including Flint, Saginaw and Detroit — by freeing up $1.9 billion in federal aid to help remove blight and repurpose abandoned properties to productive use.

The bill, which has bipartisan support and is cosponsored by Rep. Mike Turner (R-OH), would give 18 states and the District of Columbia greater flexibility to spend up to 25 percent of previously allocated money under the “Hardest Hit” program to demolish and repurpose vacant units. Congressman Kildee’s bill, if passed, would free up funding for states to use on removing blight in communities, including $124 million for Michigan communities.

The bill does not spend any new money or add to the national deficit; rather it repurposes already allocated money to the states. Under the original “Hardest Hit” program, Michigan received nearly $500 million, yet money has not been authorized to be spent on removing blight and demolishing abandoned houses.

Congressman Kildee has an extensive background in housing policy and land use issues. In 2002, as Genesee County Treasurer, he founded the Genesee Land Bank — Michigan’s first land bank — and served as its CEO from 2002 until 2009. The Land Bank, which continues to help stabilize neighborhoods and redevelop abandoned properties in Michigan, is responsible for more than $100 million in redevelopment in Flint.— G.G.

BEST Project hosts scholars, authors

FLINT — Join the BEST Project as they host an interactive day of conversations, presentations and public dialogue to build bridges of understanding that are culturally significant, inclusive, responsive, and collaborative. As our community rebuilds, we need to have more conversations across real and perceived barriers in order to see what’s possible.

The event is being held May 7 from 8:30 a.m.-5 p.m. at the Riverfront Banquet Center located at 1 Riverfront Center, W., Flint, MI, 48502.

The day’s events will be led by noted authors and scholars Tendaji Ganges, assistant to the Chancellor and executive director of The Office of Educational Opportunity Initiatives at University of Michigan-Flint; Valaida Fullwood, author of Giving Back: A Tribute to Generations of African-American Philanthropists; Jacob Hess and Phil Neisser the co-authors of You’re Not as Crazy as I Thought (But You’re Still Wrong): Conversations between a Devoted Conservative and a Die-Hard Liberal; and, Ozzie Rivera, director of Community Engagement for Southwest Solutions in Detroit.

The event is $35 per person. This will include refreshments for breakfast and a lunch. There will be a book signing.

Details: Call 810-232-8000. — G.G.

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