Featured photo: City of Flint Ombudsperson Tane’ Dorsey talked to the Courier about the current goals of the city’s Human Relations Commission (HRC).
Written by Tanya Terry
Jameca Patrick-Singleton also contributed to this article
The main purpose of the City of Flint Human Relations Commission (HRC) is to eliminate racism within the city of Flint, according to City of Flint Ombudsperson Tane’ Dorsey. The Human Relations Commission has been meeting since May of 2021. Right now, the commission is in the process of strategic planning to make sure that it’s incorporating the goals of the community.
Dorsey also said the HRC strives to connect residents with the government and help them to become more aware of city government and how it works, as well as to help eliminate tension in neighborhoods.
“Looking at blight issues, these issues cause a lot of tension within our neighborhoods,” Dorsey added.”Our residents are really being disserviced, and that’s not to say that that’s the city of Flint directly-because the city of Flint doesn’t own a lot of blighted properties.”
Dorsey said residents in Flint are “getting the short end of the stick.”
“That’s something I think the HRC can continue to bring a voice to,” she continued.
Dorsey pointed out the goal of the HRC is not just to talk about the problem, but to see where they can deliver some solutions or, at least, bring people to the table who can.
“I believe that we are going through a housing crisis. We’re going through an affordable housing crisis…”
The HRC hears a lot of stories about landlords who are absent and refuse to do repairs, and Dorsey said residents want safe, habitable housing. Unfortunately, some residents have no choice but to move into properties that are not.
“We’ve seen that with some of the larger apartment complexes that the city has recently condemned, probably with the most recent one being Sunset Village, which was condemned last year.”
Dorsey believes the HRC can also work with the city on these matters. During the March 29 Get to Know the HRC meeting, city officials were on the call. The HRC was able to have a discussion with the city’s Building Safety & Inspections department. A large part of the discussion was about the city’s rental ordinance and requirement and landlords get their properties inspected.
“The difficulty is-an ordinance is an ordinance. So, without enforcing it, what do you do with it?”
Dorsey stated she hasn’t researched enough to say these matters are race related, although race-related matters are what the HRC has historically tackled. Dorsey added Flint was the first municipality in the nation to adopt an anti housing discrimination ordinance.
“I do believe that this current HRC will be big with housing.”
The HRC has also been looking at crime in the city and how human relations can assist in reducing tensions in that capacity.
At the March 29 meeting there was also a presentation from the Genesee County Land Bank, and their plan for blighted properties was discussed. This plan included mowing more lawns more often than once a year as they continue to strive to mow more each year.
The HRC meets the fourth Tuesday of each month, with the next meeting being April 26. Dorsey would also like to have meetings in various community meeting spaces to help spread the word on what the HRC does and to garner more community participation. She mentioned Hasselbring Senior Center, Haskell Community Center and the Latinx Technology & Community Center as locations of interest.
Although there was a full body of commissioners at one time, some commissioners have died. So, there are currently two vacancies-in Ward 4 and Ward 6.
Anyone interested in joining as a HRC member should contact their city council person. To follow the activities of the HRC, visit the City of Flint Office of the Ombudsperson page on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/COFOmbudsperson.