Neighborhood Advisory Councils & Community Benefits Agreements Toolkits
Working alongside the Detroit People’s Platform, we have developed a comprehensive resource guide for setting up Neighborhood Advisory Councils (NACs) and Community Benefits Agreements (CBAs). Activists in Detroit have fought tirelessly for many years to establish strong, enforceable Community Benefits Agreements in the city, and have pushed for more equitable conditions particularly over the last decade of booming development.
The Neighborhood Advisory Councils are organizing bodies which negotiate the terms of Community Benefits Agreements. In ideal conditions, CBAs are negotiating tools that ensure that large companies moving into our neighborhoods will benefit those who live in the area. While the City of Detroit has a Community Benefits Ordinance, it does not require businesses to abide by the terms agreed upon.
Economic Equity Attorney Whitley Granberry explains:
“The Ordinance is the city’s law, which means if you’re developing in the city, and your development either involves a certain amount of investment, or you benefit from a receiving a certain amount of tax breaks or city land, you trigger the ordinance, which means you have to go through the community benefits process. The agreement is what happens at the end of the process after community stakeholders and the developer figure out what the parameters of that agreement are. The unfortunate thing is that because our Ordinance isn’t very strong, developers aren’t required to sign anything that’s legally binding at the end. Residents are learning to negotiate from greater positions of power, so that they get more out of the process than just discussions and reports in the end. Right now, developers will generally work through this process as a sign of goodwill in the communities they’re moving into, but without the requirement to sign an agreement, it results in no legal safeguard.”
As development continues to spring up all over the city, we aim to equip residents with the tools that they need in order to negotiate for economic equity, which is a core building block of creating more just cities. We hope that this tool kit is a useful resource for Detroiters and anyone else attempting to create parity where they live.