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Rust Bet: AFL-CIO Part of $2B Investment in Job-Creating Construction Throughout Midwest

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Unions are spearheading a program to rebuild homes and create jobs across the rustbelt. The $2.1 billion effort, largely funded by the AFL-CIO Housing Investment Trust’s MidWest@Work Investment Strategy, aims to renovate aging neighborhoods and combat disinvestment and unemployment:

“The cycle of despair in the urban centers of America’s Midwest is hard to break,” said Stephen Coyle, chief executive of the Housing Investment Trust. “Job loss leads to population loss, which leads to vacant and abandoned homes.”

Coyle said efforts to help need to focus on people as well as economic markets. A big part of that, he said, is preventing housing from falling into inhabitable disrepair.

The project, which began in Detroit, MI, has the potential to help rejuvenate urban centers all over the region:

The goal in Detroit is to renovate as many as 300 single-family homes and other properties using union labor. Six houses have been bought from the city’s land bank so far. When finished, the homes will be sold by a nonprofit to low-income families.

Detroit has about 30,000 vacant houses and buildings because of the city’s massive population drop since the 1950s. The city has a separate program that has leveled more than 10,000 houses in the past two and a half years. The Detroit Land Bank Authority also is working with nonprofits and banks on programs to repair city-owned houses to bolster neighborhoods.

The Housing Investment Trust (HIT) plans to spend the next several years employing the Detroit model in various cities around the Midwest:

About 90 projects are planned over the next five to seven years with no matching funds required from the cities, including about 60 multifamily housing units.

A $30 million neighborhood home repair program started last year in Detroit in partnership with the city. The program’s goal is to renovate as many as to 300 single-family homes and other properties with union labor.

Cities with projects in the works include St. Louis, St. Paul, Milwaukee, Columbus, and Buffalo. Supporters expect the program to create over 25,000 new jobs, 9,700 of which would be in the construction sector.

For more on HIT’s amazing projects, peruse this targeted search of our archives.


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