Dream of Detroit may try to raise money through crowdfunding for the $150,000-$175,000 project, the planning of which is backed by a Kresge Innovative Projects grant. One vacant spot would work well at the corner of Woodrow Wilson and Tyler, Crain said. But the lots are privately owned and Dream of Detroit hasn’t been able to purchase them. Site ownership can be a roadblock.
“I can’t honestly say that we’ve tried to get support from (the city’s Strategic Neighborhood Fund) … What I do know is that those designations are based on the consumer spending habits and capacity of the folks living within those neighborhoods, as opposed to any measures of need or service delivery,” Crain said. “From the perspective of the city’s connection to (SNF) and the city touting it as a public win, that is where I think there’s a disconnect … I’m not opposed to public-private partnership, but the city does, I think, owe it to the rest of the neighborhoods, the rest of us, to also show where and how are we being prioritized.”
Still, Dream of Detroit is continuing on its private path, looking to define its next phase.
“Once we finish those remaining rehabs … we need to step back and say, ‘OK, what’s viable in terms of new development?'” Crain said.
By that time, though, Clark may no longer be managing the Project Homecoming house. He wants to eventually move on and let someone else take the reins so he can further pursue entrepreneurship.
He likes baking; he learned it when he was young and deepened those skills while incarcerated. He also spends three or four hours a day on a side gig/hobby: leather work. He hand-crafts purses, Bible covers, belts and other pieces. A belt may take eight to nine hours over three days, selling for $40.
“If it’s made out of leather, I can pretty much make it,” he said, rattling off recent projects for customers: A Black Lives Matter belt, memorabilia for graduating Cass Technical High School students, keychains with symbols. He said he’d like to use what he learned helping renovate the Project Homecoming house to fix up his own storefront.
“I’d like to open up a small bakery, sell leather goods in the corner,” he said.
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