For 15 years, the Community Development Advocates of Detroit (CDAD) has served as the leading voice for Detroit’s community development industry. With nearly 100 dues-paying members, CDAD advocates for public policies and resources that advance the work of nonprofit, community-based organizations in Detroit neighborhoods who are engaged in physical development, land use planning, community organizing, and other activities designed to stabilize and revitalize the quality of life in Detroit.
According to research from the University of Michigan, as well as research from Local Initiatives Support Corporation, CDAD members have provided somewhere in excess of $250 million in economic development, including 3,500 new or rehabilitated units of affordable housing and over 600,000 square feet of new or renovated commercial retail space.
Detroit’s Current Crisis
From 2000 to 2010 the city of Detroit lost over 250,000 residents, one quarter of all of its residential population. While the population decline in most American cities has stopped or reversed, Detroit has experienced an acceleration of population loss. The impacts are more than population numbers.
Detroit possesses the highest rate of child poverty among America’s 50 largest cities, with 53.6 percent of its children living at or below the federal poverty line according to the 2010 American Community Survey. The city’s infrastructure is crumbling and more than one-quarter (26 percent) or 91,000 of the city’s residential lots are vacant according to Data Driven Detroit. And the city suffers from adult illiteracy, unemployment, and underemployment rates that have been estimated to approach 50 percent.
Detroit’s neighborhood crisis has drawn international attention.
CDAD’s New Mission and Vision
In 2008, CDAD convened a Futures Task Force that spent 18 months discussing and planning a response to the neighborhood crisis in Detroit. What emerged was a broader and deeper dedication to our neighborhoods, communities, and residents. During this process, CDAD grew from being simply a trade association for community development corporations to a catalyst for neighborhood transformation in Detroit.
The new CDAD includes several exciting changes:
- New and Broader Membership
CDAD has redefined its membership criteria to include neighborhood improvement organizations of all shapes and sizes. These changes enable local organizations, such as block clubs, CB patrols, police community councils, local school community organizations (LSCOs), and also citywide advocacy groups that do not meet the traditional definition of a development or land use planning organization to join CDAD. To find out more about CDAD’s new membership criteria click here.
- Development of a Strategic Framework for Community-Based Planning
Over the past two years, CDAD has worked with a variety of neighborhood residents, community organizations, planning consultants, and technical assistance experts to pioneer a community-driven, participatory neighborhood planning and revitalization tool, known as the CDAD Strategic Framework. This community-based planning tool has been piloted through the Lower Eastside Action Plan (LEAP) effort on the eastside and the Springwells Village work in Southwest Detroit. CDAD’s Strategic Framework is unique in that it is fueled by community and resident input, it is data-driven, it explicitly accommodates resource constraints, and it is focused on implementation and sustainability beyond the mere creation of the plan.
- Industry Reform
CDAD’s work has made it clear that revitalizing and stabilizing Detroit’s neighborhoods cannot be accomplished without retooling and rebuilding neighborhood institutions to carry out that mission. Whether it is the Detroit Works Project, CDAD’s Strategic Framework, or other sustained strategies for tackling the challenges in Detroit’s neighborhoods, residents will need community-based organizations to help them take collective action. Detroit needs to revamp its community development industry.
CDAD has worked with numerous government, nonprofit, philanthropic, and private sector partners, in addition to its members, to develop a blueprint for retooling the community development industry. CDAD’s Industry Reform vision includes innovative means for facilitating collaboration and alliances among neighborhood and community development organizations, as well as realistic concepts for insuring that technical assistance, financial support, and training of community development organizations, volunteers, and staff can be implemented in Detroit.
CDAD’s Historic Role of Leadership
CDAD has been a key partner to Detroit’s neighborhoods for 15 years. From the work of its volunteer community development corporation members helping shape the City’s DOCTOR training—the first trainings in affordable housing development in Detroit in the early 1990s—to helping to form the state trade association for community development—the Community Economic Development Association of Michigan (CEDAM)—CDAD has been advocating for and moving the community development industry forward.
CDAD has played a leadership role in studying the vacancy of neighborhood commercial retail districts and helped pioneer a strategy that resulted in the City’s Office of Neighborhood Commercial Revitalization and ReStore Detroit. It also provided an ADVANCE training to build professional capacity of dozens of community development organizations in Detroit.
Throughout its history, CDAD has served as a citywide advocacy voice for Detroit neighborhood organizations. Check out the video below to understand more about CDAD’s history: