Detroit Council President Pro Tem James Tate talks affordable housing, 2024 agenda and more

In an interview with WDET, Tate discussed his goals for expanding affordable housing, increasing voter turnout in this year’s presidential election and more.

Detroit City Council is beginning 2024 with several issues on their agenda. 

Council President Pro Tempore James Tate says among the most pressing problems in Detroit is a lack of affordable housing and making homes accessible for those with disabilities. Tate calls it a national dilemma that is hitting Detroiters especially hard.  

“In 2024, this year, the push is really to not just look at affordable housing, but affordable and accessible housing,” he said. “It’s a difference when we start talking about affordable housing — that is the government definition, if you will, of what affordability looks like — but when we peel back the layers, we see that affordability doesn’t always mean accessibility for residents of the city of Detroit, especially those who are in most need of this type of housing.”

Tate says the city has utilized incentives like tax breaks to encourage developers to invest in affordable or accessible housing for Detroiters — adding that council members are willing to levy penalties if developers don’t hold up their end of the bargain.

“We hope that it doesn’t have to get to that point. But that always remains a lever that we have available,” he said. “We’re not going to take our foot off the gas over any agreement that we’ve made with any of developers.”

Listen: Full interview with Detroit Council President Pro Tem James Tate on the council’s agenda for 2024

That includes those involved in District Detroit, Tate said, referring to the development project surrounding Little Caesars Arena that developers claimed would also include affordable housing.

Detroit Council President Pro Tempore James Tate.
Detroit Council President Pro Tempore James Tate says expanding affordable housing and encouraging Detroiters to vote in 2024 are two major focuses going into this year.

“During the District Detroit approval process, we were able to further negotiate another $3.5 million dollars that will go into the Affordable Housing Trust Fund for the citizens of the city of Detroit, those who need it the most, so a little progress” said Tate, though he did express concern over the speed in which the project is moving.

Tate has been a big proponent of the city’s recreational marijuana ordinance and trying to give longtime residents in Detroit the first chance at a license. He says since the ordinance was approved in 2022, there have been two rounds of licensing, and he is excited about what the council was able to accomplish in terms of ensuring access to “equity applicants” and “legacy Detroiters,” or Detroit residents who have lived in the city of 10 years or more.

“I’m very pleased to see that we see Detroiters, longtime legacy Detroiters, having an opportunity to participate in this industry that has frozen them out,” he said. “And that doesn’t guarantee success with anyone, I’ve said that from the very beginning. What my goal was, and always is, is to allow for competition — fair competition.”

Tate also emphasized the importance of convincing residents how important the upcoming presidential election is to their lives. Detroit has long been a Democratic stronghold, But Tate says some city residents typically avoid casting a ballot for any party’s candidate and the stakes are too high this year for the city to have a low voter turnout.

We have to do what we can in the city of Detroit to ensure that whoever is elected president is one that has our best interests at heart,” he said. “Part of what I’m personally going to be doing is having numerous conversations with Detroiters, especially those who don’t vote and who have traditionally said that they don’t believe that voting matters at all.

“Everyone has a reason, I’m not here to judge. But 2024 is the most critical election in our lifetime.”

Use the media player above to hear the full interview with Detroit Council President Pro Tem James Tate.

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  • Quinn Klinefelter
    Quinn Klinefelter is a Senior News Editor at 101.9 WDET. In 1996, he was literally on top of the news when he interviewed then-Senator Bob Dole about his presidential campaign and stepped on his feet.