We believe that the North End is a highly performing, vibrant and sustainable community.
In the winter of 2011, Greater Woodward CDC and the Storehouse of Hope were asked to host a meeting to inform community around the emerging M1 Light Rail Project. The meeting was held at the historic St. Matthew’s and St. Joseph’s Episcopal Church located in the North End. At that meeting residents, organizations, and churches were in attendance. At the conclusion of the meeting, it was apparent that the community was extremely concerned about the Light Rail and the impact it would have on their community.
The North End Woodward Community Coalition (NEWCC) grew out of this initial community convening. NEWCC is a community based coalition composed of faith-based organizations, businesses and residents who deserve to be heard and included in the decisions that impact the transportation needs of thousands of low income and people of color riders who reside in the North End of Detroit. In the past year NEWCC convened members of the community to create a vision for transportation in the North End in addition to hosting 27 planning and educational community meetings with faith, business and residents. Assisted by a team of community residents NEWCC has conducted outreach to more than 2000 North End homes advising about transit related issues and concerns; produced a quarterly newsletter for distribution, and submitted a response to the Federal Transit Administration’s Environmental Impact Study (EIS) in relationship to the impact of the proposed Light Rail.
With the demise of the proposed Woodward Light Rail project, a system intended to benefit the North End through transit oriented development, the coalition made the decision to shift it’s emphasis from advocating on behalf of specific transportation systems to looking more broadly at transportation systems through the lens of justice. The role of NEWCC is now to advocate for fair and just transportation systems and policies with a particular emphasis on protection of the civil rights of low income and people of color who are transit dependent.
Most recently in response to the Detroit Department of Transportation (DDOT) severe service adjustments and cutbacks, NEWCC has challenged the service adjustments and filed formal complaints with the City of Detroit Office of the Ombudsman in addition to the filing of Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request for the release of the DDOT Service Equity Analysis (SEA).
On May 9, 2012, NEWCC will file a formal complaint with the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) requesting that the FTA investigate the Detroit Department of Transportation (DDOT) for possible breaches of federal guidelines as they relate to theprotection of minority, low income, and limited English Proficiency populations protected under Title VI of the Civil Rights Act.
Transportation Justices is about advocating for policies rooted in these principles:
1. Transportation systems must be affordable whether it is a bus or a light rail…it must be affordable for all.
2. Involve public participation, accountability, and transparency…the public voice needs to be represented in the planning and decision-making process.
3. Transportation systems must be accessible and connected…needs to take “transit dependent” people where they need to go in a way that is convenient, accessible and safe.
4. Transportation systems and policies should be fair…low-income riders and people of color must receive an equal benefit from public transit dollars as higher-income and white riders do.
5. Community benefits are largely tied to the level of community investment and advocacy. It is important that the community be financially invested in the project through public funds so that it has a greater basis for demanding fair treatment and accountability.