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Policy Research

D4 is continually researching best practices related to equitable development legislation and public policies. In this effort, D4 is assisted by its national network of experts, think tanks, and other government or nonprofit partners. Though case studies are helpful, D4 always considers how best practices can and should be tailored to the unique complexities of Detroit. Most of D4's policy research falls within three categories: affordable housing, construction careers, and an overall Community Benefits Agenda.

Affordable Housing

As certain areas of Detroit become more developed, it is important that we are proactive about creating policies that ensure a healthy mix of housing types, so that all Detroiters have access to quality housing in the coming years.


In 2015, D4 published its Inclusionary Housing Brief, which spells out many of the challenges and opportunities we face in creating a more level playing field as it relates to housing policy. And since 2014, D4 has convened a cross sector working group, called "Forward Detroit," which works closely and collaboratively with city leaders, developers, and housing advocates to articulate a shared vision for ensuring affordable rental housing in Detroit.


This work, we believe, is resulting in substantive policies at the city level, and sets the stage for additional work in areas like affordable housing preservation, strategies with single-family and multi-family homes, and aligning low-income housing with supportive services.

After more than two years of research and advocacy, D4 and other partners worked with Detroit City Council to pass Detroit's first Inclusionary Housing Ordinance and establish an important Housing Trust Fund. The ordinance was passed in September 2017. 

Download our 2015 Best Practice Report for Mixed Income Rental Properties, by clicking the icon at right:

Download a copy of Detroit's Inclusionary Housing Ordinance, by clicking the icon at right:

Download a copy of our Home Repair: Rebuilding Equity Report, by clicking the icon at right:

Construction Careers

Over the last decade, billions of dollars have been allocated for construction projects inside the City of Detroit. And for the first time in recent memory, skilled tradespeople are in demand.


But entry to the construction trades pipeline for Detroit residents remains an uncertain path. As new jobs become available, many Detroiters still face substantial gaps, struggling daily with a multitude of challenges like transportation access, lack of quality education, insufficient housing, and access to resources, making these well paid jobs just out of reach.


In 2015, D4 published its construction careers report, Detroit is Under Construction, as well as a companion Executive Summary. These documents highlight how rebuilding Detroit can also help rebuild Detroiters, by investing in programs and policies to support a construction careers pipeline that works - for everyone. In the future, D4 will be focusing on organizational partnerships to help identify recommendations from the report that are good candidates for implementation.

Download the Executive Summary of Detroit is Under Construction, by clicking the icon at right:

Download the Full Version of Detroit is Under Construction, by clicking the icon at right:

Community Benefits Agenda

One of D4’s core tenets is the need for a citywide Community Benefits Agenda. A Community Benefits Agenda is made up of a number of different tools, including:

  • Community Benefits Agreements (CBAs), which are legally binding contracts between developers and communities for specific project-related promises, such as jobs for local residents. CBAs have become common in cities across the U.S. for large projects where public money is part of the financing, including Los Angeles, Minneapolis, Pittsburgh, and New York.

  • Community Benefits Ordinance(s), which is a codified set of laws by a local government, such as the two currently on the November 8 ballot, under consideration by Detroit voters. These types of ordinances either require specific community benefits or a more comprehensive set of benefits around issues like local hiring, inclusionary housing, and environmental concerns. 

  • Review and Enforcement of Existing Policies, such as the City of Detroit’s EO 2014-7, which is an executive order establishing a goal that 51% of the workforce and hours performed on projects shall be completed by bona-fide Detroit residents.

  • Public Request for Proposals (RFPs), which can be written to include a greater range of community input and consideration before projects even start.

D4 is working with a range of community partners and campaigns to help articulate and promote a citywide Community Benefits Agenda. Our policy vision includes CBAs and other binding mechanisms, including ordinances, to help ensure that economic development is linked to residents’ well-being. Such issues can include employment/job training opportunities, environmental sustainability, affordable housing, public safety, transit/parking, and other quality of life concerns.

Download D4's Jobs in the Districts Report, by clicking the icon at right:

Download D4's Pushing Community Benefits Upstream Report, by clicking the icon at right:

Community Benefits Ordinance (CBO)

In November 2016, Detroiters voted on two different proposals for community benefit ordinances in the city (named "Proposal A" and "Proposal B"). These ordinances required a real estate developer to incorporate community wishes, albeit in different ways, into eligible projects. 

"Proposal B" won and has been implemented with several large-scale real estate projects across Detroit already. More information about these projects their respective community benefit plans can be found on the City of Detroit's CBO project page here


D4 and other partners have been monitoring how the CBO is being implemented and we expect some legislative modification to the CBO in the future. In an effort to assist the upcoming civic discourse, D4 is providing the following resources below. 

Download our CBO Resource Manual for NAC Members, by clicking the icon at right:

Download a side-by-side comparison of Proposal A and Proposal B, by clicking the icon at right:

Download the full language of Proposal A, by clicking the icon at right:

Download the full language of Proposal B, by clicking the icon at right:

Download a report on how to create effective Community Benefit Agreements, published by the Partnership for Working Families and the Community Benefits Law Center, by clicking the icon at right:

For more information visit

Download a pamphlet about how the current CBO works, by clicking the icon at right:

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