New Kildee Initiative Aims to Change the Way Congress Approaches and Invests in America's Cities and Towns
Congressman Dan Kildee (MI-05), the co-chair of the Congressional Urban Caucus and Vice Ranking Member of the House Financial Services Committee, today announced that he is starting a new congressional forum aimed at changing the way Congress and policy makers think about and invest in America's cities and towns.
Kildee's new initiative, "The Future of America's Cities and Towns," will include policy discussions in Washington, D.C. and around the country with local, state and federal elected officials, as well as public policy experts to focus on the unique challenges and opportunities facing many older, industrial communities like Flint, Michigan.
"My hometown of Flint has captured many newspaper headlines in recent years. But even before the water crisis, Flint faced unique challenges as an older, industrial city: population loss, the outsourcing of jobs and rampant blight. Flint isn't an anomaly; a whole subset of America's cities and towns face similar challenges. There are places in every region of the country, like my hometown, that face similar stressors.
"These are real challenges that require action. It is long past time for us to have a national strategy about how we approach and invest in America's cities and towns. We cannot simply let these communities--where millions of people live, work and raise their families--fall further into decline. America needs these communities to succeed," Congressman Kildee continued.
The first roundtable, "The Current State of America's Cities and Towns," will take place on Wednesday on Capitol Hill and feature Financial Services Committee Ranking Member Maxine Waters (CA-43), as well as Karen Freeman-Wilson, the Mayor of Gary, Indiana, and representatives from The Brookings Institution, National League of Cities, and Center for Community Progress. At the roundtable discussion, panelists will provide their perspective on current fiscal constraints facing cities, how a lack of investments has stalled redevelopment, and the challenges vulnerable communities face.
Congressman Kildee is recognized as a leading national voice on urban policy issues. In Congress, he has successfully fought for billions of dollars for Michigan and other states to remove blight from neighborhoods in cities like Detroit, Flint and Saginaw. According to a study by the Land Policy Institute at Michigan State University, removing blight in neighborhoods has been found to lower crime rates and improve property values for surrounding homeowners.
Before being elected to Congress, Congressman Kildee co-founded and served as the president of the Center for Community Progress, a national non-profit organization, where he served as one of the nation's leading voices on urban land reform and revitalization. He founded Michigan's first land bank -- the Genesee County Land Bank -- which is responsible for over $100 million in redevelopment in the city of Flint. The Genesee County Land Bank later served as a model for over 100 other land banks across the nation.