Should Detroit City Workers Be Required To Live Within City Limits?

DETROIT (WWJ) – It’s been an ongoing debate:  If you work for the city of Detroit, should you be required to live there?

State Senator Coleman Young II, along with two fellow state lawmakers, held a hearing on this issue Thursday morning at Detroit City Hall. The way Young sees it, there is only one answer to that question.

“I feel that right now, in a time where you’ve had 17 people shot and seven killed in 24 hours, we definitely need community policing in the City of Detroit. it’s been something that the people have been crying for, have been demanding for a long time, and I support it and want to bring it back.”

Young said he hopes leaders in Lansing will hear what Detroiters have to say and will be inclined to address those needs.

Detroiter Tony Mitchell likes the idea of bringing back residency, something that Young’s famous father strongly supported.

“I was once a city employee, I worked for the water department and when Coleman Young was living he said if you want to work for the city you must live in the city and I think it’s fantastic. That’s the reason why I didn’t wander off because at that time they had the residency law.”

Mitchell believes individuals should live where they work if they’re a municipal employee.

“Naturally, yes. I think it should because, to keep the money inside the city. People bad mouth Detroit but there are some beautiful neighborhoods in the city.”

Detroit City Clerk Janice Winfrey agrees, saying when residency is not required, the city loses its tax base.

Not everyone is on board with a change though. WWJ City Beat Reporter Vickie Thomas spoke with two Detroit Police Officers who live in the city, and they don’t think anyone should be forced to live in Detroit.

Kia Williams, a city employee living in Detroit, also thinks the residency condition should not be required, adding that her home has been broken into twice and her children jumped by gang members.

In Mayor Dave Bing’s 2011 state of the city speech, he said approximately half of the Detroit force now lives outside city limits.

Michigan legislature repealed the residency requirement for Detroit city workers in 1999.

Meantime, Chase Bank announced Thursday it’s donating $1 million to help Detroit Police Officers and city workers move back into the city.

More from Vickie Thomas
  • Jim

    Get rid of the %&*$ing criminal element, and you’ll have a somewhat valid argument. I’m just sayin!

  • Chase Bank Donates $1M To Move Workers Back To Detroit « CBS Detroit

    […] or not the city should reinstate the requirement forcing city employees to live within city limits. (Read More) Share this 2 comments […]

  • Tim Hurley

    Coleman Young II–Your memory needs refreshing. ASs a former City Employee, I too worked at the Dept. of Water & Sewerage for 15 years. Your Dad 1st waived residency requirements for SPO (Sewage Plan Operators) back in the day because he had the wisdom to know that the City could not attract qualified, certified & experienced operators. Up till that point, The WWTP was the biggest polluter of the Great Lakes. Being under Judge Feiken’s Federal Consent Decree meant we had to get the world’s largest wastewater plant into EPA discharge compliance. We commandos who bit the bullet–did achieve that goal, while I chose to live in Ferndale. Your proposal is short-sighted. Detroit does not have a murder/crime problem. It has a problem with crack. Until that is addressed, the City will continue it’s decline.

  • Downtown HOBO

    they should be forced to live in the city
    if u dont wanna live their dont work their
    go work where u live

  • Patriot1030

    Absolutely not. Noone has the right to tell you where to live. Unless of course you live in a communist state. And they should not require only minority businesses to receive governement work either. Let’s stop with the Fascist central planners.

  • Rene

    I do not believe residency should be a requirement to work in the City of Detroit. I worked for a suburban municipality for close to 10 years while living and maintaining my Detroit residency. My employer never required that I move to their community and I think I did an outstanding job representing that community. Meanwhile, Detroit got to collect income tax AND property taxes from me while I lived in another community. People who work in Detroit and live elsewhere already pay income tax that other communities don’t require. I no longer live in Detroit, but I would be APPALLED if I worked for City of Detroit and they made me move back to the City. NOT GONNA HAPPEN!! You can have a talented workforce without requiring folks to live within the City’s boundaries. The issue of diminishing population in the City has absolutely NOTHING to do with residency and EVERYTHING to do with quality of live, safety and education. Worry about those issues Detroit and the population will increase – not by forcing someone to live where they don’t want to be in order to work and keep a job.

  • yasmine

    hello there,

    nice post here may come back soon
    continue updating your blog

  • TJ

    A residency requirement would obviously help Detroit. Could it hurt recruitment of qualified personnel? Maybe for some technical jobs, but likely not anytime soon. With the unemployment rate what it is, I don’t think that a residency requirement would hurt. If years or decades down the road, it becomes a problem for recruiting or retaining a certain classification, an exemption for that highly skilled classification can be made. Someone on here blamed Detroit’s problem on drug use, quality of life, and education. Those problems seem accurate. A residency requirement for city employees would help to alleviate some of those problems. Transplanting employed people with paychecks and (many with) drug testing requirements would dilute some positive into what many think of Detroit’s negative environment. It should help to create an environment for more positive. Can you name the worst 5, and best 10 neighborhoods in Detroit? Unless a highly organized rebirth/transplant movement came about, I’d say avoiding the worst 5 neighborhoods would be prudent for most transplanting city of Detroit employees. The ten best neighborhoods, though (yes it will be funny for some poster to say that there are not ten good neighborhoods in Detroit, but not productive)… if thousands of employed (and many of them drug tested) people and their families were to concentrate on one or two… or a handful… or even ten decent neighborhoods, imagine how that neighborhood (and maybe even surrounding neighborhoods) might transform. Dollars would circulate through local businesses that could employ more locals… less vacant houses around… more families that are connected to the mainstream would likely translate into better school performance and atmosphere… this same atmosphere would likely also carry through the neighborhoods. A post here identified the criminal element as the problem of Detroit. Getting rid of the criminal element for the short term involves having police arrest people. Getting rid of the criminal element long term is creating an environment where the criminal element will not thrive. Adding large numbers of the mainstream (employed, middle class, law biding people with something to lose) creates a different environment than what Detroit and Detroiters currently suffer.

    Anyway, how about we re-frame the question. What are some of the neighborhoods you would move into if you were a city of Detroit employee?

    Also, what are house prices in those neighborhoods? What are the rents in those neighborhoods?

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