Julie Schneider: Public servants advancing the public good

Source: Ford School of Public Policy

Within the last five years, $1 billion has been invested in affordable housing in the city of Detroit to create and preserve 12,000 housing units. Julie Schneider, a Ford School alumna and a former Bohnett fellow, now director of the city of Detroit’s Housing and Revitalization Department, facilitated the planning process and is now overseeing its implementation.

Bank with a mission: “HRD operates like a bank with a mission to sustain and grow Detroit’s neighborhoods and residents. We invest in affordable housing and other community development programs. We also provide direct services.

“Many people have put in the time, perseverance, creativity, and focus to create a strategy and see the vision take shape to have a major impact. The strategy helped our partners coalesce around a goal and the actions to help us get there. For example, we expanded the financial tools available to fit our housing market. Detroit has many small vacant apartment buildings for which federal resources may not be a great fit. With a local partner, we raised $58 million to create a new funding source and are seeing buildings being brought back online.

Public-private collaboration: “The collaborations between private and public markets can make for more equitable and efficient systems. We work with many for-profit and nonprofit developers to create and preserve affordable housing, as well as governmental and private lending institutions. On the public side, we help residents maintain and obtain housing by funding construction and providing navigation services. We also guide developers through city processes and ensure that the promises that developers make are delivered. We frequently coordinate with government sector partners and private financial institutions to get housing developments funded.

“Challenge and the fun: In local government, our responsibility is to work with people with different interests and opinions while moving towards desired outcomes. Coalition building means change can take time, but also increases the likelihood of success. It’s part of the challenge and the fun.”


Back to News + Stories