May 15, 2023 - News

Detroit block clubs on the rise

A sign for the Alter Road Block Club on the east side. Photo: Annalise Frank/Axios

When neighbors organize with goals, they can form an official team and seek grants from the city — and these block clubs are becoming more popular.

Why it matters: Fifty-six new block clubs have registered this year so far, Erinn Harris, deputy director of Detroit's department of neighborhoods, tells Axios.

  • That brings Detroit to 573 registered block clubs, with the newest one in District 6: Breckenridge Street Block Club.

Context: Harris attributes recent growth to the Neighborhood Beautification Program, which has run two rounds so far offering $500-$15,000 grants for block clubs, neighborhood associations and nonprofits to clean, garden and make improvements on vacant lots.

  • The next application round opens in spring 2024.

What they're saying: "We're really trying to push for more organized groups, which really help out the neighborhood" by building relationships between community and government, Harris says.

  • The city is encouraging the groups to have meetings and participate in volunteer cleanup and beautification initiative Motor City Makeover.

Flashback: Some clubs date back more than 40 years, like the Castle Rouge Civic Association, founded in 1978.

Of note: The department has an interactive map and a list of block clubs and neighborhood associations.


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