Detroit has announced the launch of the Resilient Eastside Initiative, a pilot network of hubs designed to support residents during climate-induced emergencies. These hubs, equipped with solar power, battery backup, and other essential systems, aim to bolster community resilience in the face of power outages, floods, heat waves, and other crises.
The initiative’s first phase will establish three resilience hubs in strategic locations across the city. These include the newly constructed Lenox Center at A.B. Ford Park on the riverfront, the Eastside Community Network’s headquarters at Stoudamire Wellness Hub near Conner and Warren, and Brilliant Detroit’s literacy center in the Chandler Park neighborhood.
The Resilient Eastside Initiative is a collaborative effort between the Eastside Community Network (ECN), the City of Detroit, Brilliant Detroit, and Elevate, a nonprofit based in Chicago that focuses on equitable access to clean and sustainable resources for communities nationwide.
During the announcement event held at ECN headquarters, ECN, Elevate, and The Kresge Foundation led the initiative’s unveiling. Jack Akinlosotu, Detroit’s new Director of Sustainability, was in attendance.
The initiative has received funding commitments totaling $2.7 million from organizations such as The Kresge Foundation, General Motors Climate Equity Fund, Urban Sustainable Directors Network, and Clean Energy Group’s Resilient Power Project. This investment will support the development of the Stoudamire Wellness Hub and Brilliant Detroit Chandler Park site and community engagement efforts. It will also contribute to the Detroit Clean Energy Contract Accelerator, which promotes contractor diversity.
To fund the new community center at A.B. Ford Park on the Detroit Riverfront, a total of $6.7 million is required. This funding will be secured through city funds and donations from Penske Corp.’s Strategic Neighborhood Fund.
“Poverty, poor housing conditions and lack of transportation, those three evils mean that people in our community are vulnerable,” said ECN President and CEO, Donna Givens Davidson. “We need a network of mutually supportive hubs throughout the community, and these first three sites on the east side are just the beginning.”
Davidson highlighted the mission of the Stoudamire Wellness Hub, Brilliant Detroit Chandler Park facility, and ECN headquarters in providing ongoing services focused on early childhood education, youth engagement, and wellness activities.
Davidson also emphasized how ECN supported residents during the 2021 floods and explained how the enhanced infrastructure of the resilience centers can further meet residents’ needs during crises. The hubs will serve as safe spaces where residents can access essential services such as device charging, food and water, shelter, medication refrigeration, and crisis information.
A n 8,116-square-foot community center is being constructed at A.B. Ford Park on the riverfront. Equipped with solar installations, a diesel generator, and battery storage, this facility is expected to open later this year.
“The strength of the Initiative is that it is centered around the community-based organizations that are doing important work providing for their neighborhoods and have been trusted centers of the community for years,” said Tim Skrotzki, Elevate’s associate director of strategic consulting. “These organizations are already addressing climate emergencies – this partnership connects these them with further resources and support to build a robust, strategically planned network across the city.”
Organizers plan to announce additional east side locations as they explore opportunities to expand the program citywide.