What Biden Should Do for Detroit: The Citizens’ View

A lot of expectations come with being elected President of the United States, and the citizens of Detroit want President Joe Biden’s top priority to be continuing to navigate the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to the 2021 Detroit Resident Survey conducted by the Wayne State Center for Urban Studies between Jan. 15 and March 1, 2021, 39 percent of respondents said COVID-19 should be President Biden’s top issue. Respondents, all who are Detroit citizens, were asked to choose from a list of 10 priorities on what they believe should be the top. Of the 571 respondents to this question 225, or 39 percent, said it should be COVID-19. Livable wages, racism, access to affordable health care, police brutality and quality education were all separate priorities that each received 9 percent of the vote as to what Biden’s top priority should be.

As of March 28, 2021 an ABC News/Ipsos poll found that President Biden received a 72 percent national approval rating for his handling of the COVID-19 pandemic. Additionally, the same ABC News article states 75 percent of Americans back how the President is handling the distribution of COVID vaccines. In the State of Michigan 653,659 COVID-19 cases were confirmed as of March 27, 2021 and in Detroit 32,998 COVID cases have been confirmed. In terms of vaccine distribution, according to the State of Michigan, 18 percent of residents are fully vaccinated and 31 percent of residents have started the process. Furthermore, 9.5 percent of Detroit residents are fully vaccinated and 17.6 percent have started the process, according to the City of Detroit Health Department.

While vaccination numbers continue to rise in Detroit and the State of Michigan, so do COVID numbers. On March 26, 2021 there were 4,670 new cases in Michigan and a 10 percent positivity rate, the highest recorded since December 2020.

Aside from COVID infections and deaths, economic and education issues related to the disease loom too. In February of 2021 the Michigan unemployment rate was 5.2 percent and in Detroit the unemployment rate was 11.4 percent in January of 2021 (the most recent data at the local level). And, just as soon as schools began to open, several districts are again moving back to online learning in response to the uptick in COVID cases.

While Detroit citizens have opinions of what Biden’s top priorities as President should be they also expressed opinions on the following in the 2021 Detroit Resident Survey:

  • What they feel the state of leadership is at the federal, state and local level;
  • How Detroit officials can best serve their citizens;
  • What their top household and community concerns and problems are;
  • What the barriers to finding employment and building wealth are;

The responses to these issues will be further explored this week in additional blog posts.

All response data in this post and in upcoming posts are from the 2021 Detroit Resident Survey conducted by the Wayne State University Center for Urban Studies, with the assistance of the MDPBlack Caucus. The survey was based on a random sample of about 20,000 households whose information was purchased from a business marketing vendor. The households were distributed throughout Detroit and where available, the vendor provided landlines, mobile telephone numbers associated with each household. Survey interviewers reached 953 individuals, 678 of whom confirmed they were Detroit residents. The Survey Findings are based on weighted totals and statistics to achieve representative findings. Respondents received a chance to be randomly selected to receive one of 10 $50 visa gift cards.