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Michigan lawmakers discuss housing, urban development issues

Kristian Grant (D-Grand Rapids) speaks at an urban development round table.
Colin Jackson
Kristian Grant (D-Grand Rapids) speaks at an urban development round table.

A group of Michigan lawmakers called for more investment in urban areas during a roundtable discussion in Grand Rapids Monday.

The ask for more funds to address housing and other needs comes as the state is coming off spending hundreds of millions of dollars on business incentives.

The group of Democrats said their talk focused around issues like housing, workforce development, and community building.

Representative Kristian Grant (D-Grand Rapids) said the lawmakers haven’t come up with a full policy plan yet. But she said tax evaluations could be part of that picture.

“What we have seen over the past several decades in Detroit and many other places is people were taxed at a much higher value than what their home was worth at the time. And so, the process to dispute that is very expensive and it’s hard to navigate so people lost their homes,” Grant told reporters after the roundtable.

Grant said she hopes to see the state’s next budget include more money for housing and urban investment.

That’s as the Legislature has set hundreds of millions of dollars aside for business incentives across the past couple months, including $630 million toward site readiness for a Ford battery plant project and $200 million for a paper mill near Escanaba.

Representative Tyrone Carter (D-Detroit) said Michigan needs to be competitive to attract outside investment.

“Sometimes we have to create an environment for things to happen, but we got to talk about the spinoff too. We can’t just put all the money in one big place and say, ‘Hey, it’s there.’ So, we got to talk about things like community benefits agreements. We got to talk about air quality. All of those things need to be baked into those conversations,” Carter said.

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Colin Jackson is the Capitol reporter for the Michigan Public Radio Network.
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