A view of Detroit – Liberation News
Biden’s Coronavirus Relief Bill provides significant funding that could at least partially alleviate the poverty faced by millions of people in the United States. An article in Michigan Bridge summarizes the potential benefits for Michigan’s poor.
- It is estimated that 1.97 million children under the age of 18 in Michigan – and 65.7 million in the United States – could benefit from the expanded child tax credit. This represents 92% of all children in the state.
- The bill includes an increase of $ 880 million for food aid, including a 15% increase in food stamp benefits. It could potentially help alleviate the hunger of the more than 430,000 Michigan adults who said they could not afford to feed their children adequately.
- Some $ 25 billion in housing assistance and housing vouchers could help the 139,000 families facing eviction in the state.
- There is $ 25 billion in assistance to help child care providers reopen safely and $ 15 billion in additional child care assistance to help families return to work as well.
All of these benefits will be wasted if workers and oppressed people rely on the capitalist state, a state created to serve the interests of corporations and the wealthy, to deliver these benefits to the people for whom they are intended. This is especially the case in oppressed cities like Detroit.
Detroit’s poor completely alienated from the capitalist state apparatus
In Detroit, years of crushing poverty and austerity imposed by finance capital have deprived hundreds of thousands of people of the resources to experience and enjoy the benefits, on the rare occasions they are offered. The following statistics confirm the depth of poverty and the lack of accessibility of all basic resources for tens of thousands of Detroiters.
- In Detroit, 40% of The population does not have access to any type of internet, 57% do not have a broadband connection and 70% of school-aged children do not have a connection at home.
- A 2011 report noted that 47% of Detroit residents were functionally illiterate. In 2020, the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that Detroit schools were depriving their students of basic access to literacy.
- the median household income for the Detroiters in 2018 was $ 31,283 compared to $ 61,973 nationally.
The effect of this lack of online access and basic literacy among Detroit’s poor means that even when grandiose programs are advertised, those who could benefit the most are unable to take advantage.
- While Detroit’s black community has suffered some of the highest COVID rates in the state, only 34.5% of Detroiters have been vaccinated against 54.5% of the statewide population.
- From January 2020 11,297 homes lacked water service. Despite the announcement of a plan to restore service after the outbreak of the pandemic in March 2020, there were actually only 1,250 water restorations as of May 17, 2021.
- Between 2011 and 2015, one in four properties in Detroit has been seized for unpaid property taxes by the Wayne County treasurer.
- A survey conducted in 2019, found that of the 25,000 homeowners late in paying their property taxes, 55% were unaware of the Homeowners Assistance Program’s tax exemption, a program that exempts earning families less than $ 26,780 per year from the payment of any property tax. And in 2017, only 197 families benefited from the state’s hardest hit $ 760 million in federal funds to end foreclosures. Instead, $ 380 million of funds were diverted to contractors to demolish homes as part of a corrupt program.
Let workers and the community run things
One aspect of the coronavirus relief bill is that it should provide $ 10 billion for Michigan governments: $ 4.4 billion for local governments plus an additional $ 5 billion for the state. The city of Detroit will receive $ 826.7 million. These funds must be spent by 2024 or be returned to the federal government.
People need to organize themselves to make sure that these funds are not wasted, as they are too often wasted in the capitalist United States, diverted to subcontractors and nonprofits. Instead, these funds should be used to set up community centers in every neighborhood in cities like Detroit, staffed and managed by residents of the communities they serve.
The centers should have computer stations and trained helpers to help people learn about and access all the benefits to which they are entitled. They should sponsor literacy classes. They should hire workers who go out into the community every day, to make sure those who are housebound are contacted.
Workers and community members who work in these centers should come from the communities they serve where they are known to their neighbors. They should take stock of basic items such as access to electricity, heat and safe, lead-free water, so families are not afraid to report the lack of basic necessities. for fear of having their children taken away.
They should also ensure that undocumented workers, who are often afraid to seek help for fear of deportation, get the services they need regardless of their so-called “residency status”.
Each center should include a health clinic, made up of doctors, nurses, and medical students who live in the community and can provide holistic, eco-friendly health care that truly meets people’s needs.
Cuba shows the way
A model of community service can be found in socialist Cuba. An article by Ronn Pineo published in the Journal of Developing Societies describes Cuba’s community health care system. As early as 1984, Cuba began implementing its “one doctor plus one team of nurses” approach (called basic health teams), with each unit of the team supporting 80 to 150 families. Healthcare teams live in the communities they serve in order to better understand local health issues.
Teams of doctors / nurses / public health officials are, in turn, supported by local group health teams, who meet regularly to detect common issues facing the populations they serve, keeping track of very accurate records of their findings and reporting to the Ministry of Public Health. .
Rather than waiting for people to get sick and enter doctors’ offices – a common practice elsewhere in the world – Cuban groups of doctors / nurses / public health workers spend their afternoons wandering around districts that are most convenient for them. are assigned, medical bags in hand, unexpectedly. on the homes of those who live in the communities. As a result, they are able to notice the health of the people they serve before most ailments become too serious. Teams use their home visits to remind residents to take their medication (provided free or at very low prices), to exercise more, and to generally ask their patients closely about their daily diet.
Ask workers / communities to control relief funds
For the coronavirus relief bill to truly dent poverty, hunger and homelessness, it will be up to the workers and the oppressed to organize to demand control of funds to ensure they are serve the people for whom they are meant to be. We cannot let the capitalist state, an organ of repression of the people on behalf of the business elite, do the work.
Ultimately, the only way to take the immense wealth of American capitalism, produced by the working class and stolen by the bosses, is to overthrow this rotten system and replace it with a socialist system where the needs of the people in the States – United and the world could be easily encountered.
Featured Photo: Between 2011 and 2015, one in four properties in Detroit were seized for unpaid property taxes. Photo credit: University of Michigan School for Environment and Sustainability (CC BY 2.0)