Friday, June 21, 2024

Lansing Mayor Andy Schor praises growth, lays out plans in State of the City address

March 14, 2023
Mayor Andy Schor presenting the new title of a local park during his city address at Everett High School on Mar 14.
Mayor Andy Schor presenting the new title of a local park during his city address at Everett High School on Mar 14.

At Everett High School on Tuesday night, Mayor Andy Schor proclaimed that “Lansing’s time is now.” 

In his State of the City address, Schor outlined a series of achievements and new plans for the upcoming year. 

"We have so much going on in every corner of Lansing,” Schor said. “New and rehabbed housing, economic development, public safety investments, business growth, support for social services, park improvements and ensuring residents get what they want and need from city government.”

The speech contained a handful of announcements of new programming for the next year, including Schor's plan to rename Lansing's Washington Park after soon-to-retire U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow, Michigan's first female senator.

Schor kicked off his speech on the topic of housing, an issue affecting all parts of the city. He said improvement in housing infrastructure would be a gateway to realizing other goals for Lansing, like drawing people to downtown and revitalizing older neighborhoods.

"A strong city needs housing for all people,” Schor said. “We need affordable housing with supportive services for those in need, workforce housing to attract and retain the workers of today and the future and market rate housing in areas with amenities and business district access.”

Schor addressed rental and apartment housing as well as single-family homes, and emphasized the need for affordable housing in Lansing. He announced that the Lansing Rental Housing Rehabilitation Program, an initiative to update affordable rental housing, was in final stages of development before implementation.

Schor also announced a series of forthcoming revitalization projects designed to draw people to Lansing’s entertainment and business offerings. 

"For years, we have tried to get people to our downtown on nights and weekends, tried to get state employees to stay later and get students here from MSU,” Schor said.

One part of that effort will be overhauling the stretch of Michigan Ave. that runs from the Capitol Building to MSU’s campus. 

"Michigan Avenue is an important corridor that connects the Capitol to Campus and is in need of some love,” Schor said. “Our Public Service Department is collaborating with other local agencies to redesign and rebuild the avenue starting this Spring.”

Schor commended small businesses, like the bookstore and wine bar Hooked, for aiding in the re-energizing of the Michigan Avenue corridor that joins downtown Lansing and East Lansing. 

One of the achievements Schor cited for the city was advancement in crisis response- whether by police, firefighters, or trained social workers and mental health professionals. He said the city has partnered with a program called “Advance Peace” started by Lansing citizen DeVone Boggan to promote de-escalation and conflict resolution skills for first responders.

Schor noted that in early 2023, Lansing had been on a three-month streak of no fatal shootings in the city.

"And when we broke that streak and had a violent gun death, the Advance Peace team jumped into action,” Schor said. “They immediately got to the parties involved, de-escalated the situation and prevented retaliation to end the cycle of violence.”

Lansing, Schor said, is among the first cities in the U.S. to successfully implement crisis assessment teams that aim to decrease hostile encounters between residents and police.

The city’s framework, according to Schor, allows a mental health or medical professional to be sent to the scene of an emergency instead of a police officer in situations where law enforcement may not be needed.

"Lansing knows that these situations need services - not incarceration,” Schor said. “Our social worker program, the first in the state, has grown. We have since augmented those efforts by creating a crisis assessment team which pairs a social worker with a police officer and an EMT to best address each situation that comes before them.”

Further discussing public safety, Schor outlined plans for a new public safety complex in Lansing that would house much of the city’s law enforcement infrastructure, alongside office space for judges.

"Last year, we had a great conversation with the people of Lansing about the importance of effective facilities for our public safety departments,” Schor said. “Lansing residents affirmed their support by passing the $175 million bond which will create a new and modern public safety campus that can house our entire police force and will help us to recruit and retain first responders.”

Support student media! Please consider donating to The State News and help fund the future of journalism.

Schor dedicated a large portion of his speech to plans for economic development and empowerment. He said that many of the city’s plans for diversity, equity, and inclusion center around providing economic resources to members of marginalized groups.

"We need to provide our BIPOC community the tools, opportunities, and access to expertise, resources and training to start and sustain successful businesses,” Schor said. “We are not just talking about this, we are putting our dollars and resources into making it happen.”

Also in the cards for economic support- providing financial counseling to residents and teaching eighth graders how to manage money. 

“Lansing has been on the cutting edge in helping our residents with financial empowerment,” Schor said. “We were one of the first cities in the nation to invest in the financial well-being of our residents by launching the Financial Empowerment Center - a no cost, one-on-one financial counseling program.”

Lansing schools will begin a new program where every eighth grader in the district will have access to an individual bank account designed to teach kids how to save and manage money, with funds supplied through donations. 

"The goal is to get every 8th grader in the district to a balance of $100 by the end of the school year,” Schor said. 

Residents can donate via QR code to a specific school or even an individual student, Schor said 100% of the money raised will go into the students’ accounts. 

Schor, who was elected as mayor in 2017, also noted that the 2023 State of the City address was the first to be held in person with an audience in three years. He said coming out of the pandemic, the state of Lansing is strong. 

"It is an honor to be the mayor of this great city,” Schor said. “I will always be optimistic about our future and what we can do by working together."

Discussion

Share and discuss “Lansing Mayor Andy Schor praises growth, lays out plans in State of the City address” on social media.