Hey Hey, Detroit!

Detroit Documenters are Detroiters of all ages, ethnicities, experiences and curiosities. We’ve begun a Featured Documenter series at Outlier Media to showcase members of this community. Last month, we featured native Detroiter and student journalist Amelia Benavides-Colón. This month’s featured Documenter is also a native Detroiter and community activist, Roshaun Harris

Documenters, fill out your own community profile for a chance to be featured. We’d also like to know how you stay active with the network and how you would like to see it grow. Tell us in this survey by Friday

This week our “people-powered news on your local government” includes highlights on DPSCD cuts and police oversight — or the lack thereof. If you want even more detail, check out our comprehensive notes from those meetings. 

It’s also the perfect time to become a Documenter! It’s not too late to register for our in-person orientation tomorrow (on Wednesday) and be eligible to take on fun assignments and participate in events this summer that will complement our public meeting coverage.

“They are everything because they do everything.”

—A Detroit substitute teacher supporting classroom aides and asking the school board not to go forward with cutting these positions

The Scoop

With looming budget crunch, Detroit school board approves staffing cuts

The Detroit Public Schools Community District (DPSCD) needs to cut costs as the district’s budget shrinks and will eliminate some positions next fall now that the district is no longer receiving pandemic relief dollars. As many as 300 positions could be affected, though the number of people who lose their jobs could be much less. 

DPSCD spokesperson Chrystal Wilson told Outlier these people have the option to move into alternative positions at equal or higher pay.

5/3/2023 Detroit Public Schools Community District, Board Study Session
Documented by Bridget Scallen and Byron Keys.

City News

Housing, Utilities, Policing


Talks about Cass Community Social Services (CCSS) dominated public comments at last Monday’s Detroit Continuum of Care (CoC) meeting. 

The CoC is a planning body operated by the Homeless Action Network of Detroit (HAND) that coordinates housing services for people experiencing homelessness. Board member Taura Brown and housing advocates spoke about the injuries they incurred during an eviction defense staged at the home Brown was living in. They have been vocal about their claims of unjust housing practices at the Tiny Homes program by the Rev. Faith Fowler, executive director at CCSS. 

Julisa Abad, a community advocate on the CoC board, spoke about instances of violence and intimidation directed toward transgender residents at the Tiny Homes. 

“We have money in Cass (CCSS). We care about what you all are saying,” said Tasha Gray, HAND’s executive director. Gray acknowledged the “consistent, ongoing, serious level of allegations that violate state and federal law,” and asked what measures the board should take to address the advocates’ grievances. 

CoC board chair Celia Thomas said she will touch base with Brown and others over the next week, and that the board would meet with them to figure out additional steps.

5/1/2023 Detroit Continuum of Care, Board of Directors
Documented by Christiana Beckley and Meghan Rutigliano.


During Wednesday’s committee meetings, the Board of Water Commissioners discussed ongoing correspondence with an unnamed Detroit co-op housing complex requesting a change in billing policy and procedures.

On Aug. 1, 2022, the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department rolled out a new rate structure whereby the first 4,500 gallons of water used by each metered customer per month will be billed at one rate. Any usage above that amount will be billed at a rate that is nearly 80% more expensive.

Residents of multi-unit buildings without individual water meters say this change is hurting them. Because they all share one meter they pay the higher rate for most of their water. The unnamed co-op commissioners discussed is a building of 220 units that share a single meter controlled by the management, which then divides the total cost among the residents. 

Customer Service Officer Matthew Phillips said the water department can’t change policies and procedures just to benefit these customers. He said co-op residents should separate the water into individual accounts by adding meters for each unit at their own expense.

5/3/2023 Board of Water Commissioners Committee Meetings
Documented by A J Johnson and Amelia Benavides-Colón.


After much backpedaling and multiple job offers, Jerome Warfield Sr. addressed the Board of Police Commissioners on Thursday for the first time as chief investigator. Warfield is no stranger to the board, having previously served as a commissioner from 2009 to 2013, and as board chair for two of those years. 

The board also considered placing a pair of officers facing felony charges on unpaid suspension. Brianna Cabano and Dayna Sears were charged by Macomb County prosecutors with second-degree home invasion, malicious destruction of property and larceny. The officers are currently on administrative leave with pay and benefits. Police Chief James White recommended the board remove their pay, but commissioners chose not to vote on the issue. They have the option of making a decision at a later date. 

5/4/2023 Board of Police Commissioners
Documented by Amelia Benavides-Colón and Damien Benson.

More Coverage

(5/1) Highland Park City Council Meeting: Council votes against retaining legal counsel to represent them in mediation with the Great Lakes Water Authority or its Chapter 9 request.

(5/2) Detroit City Council, Formal Session: Public hearing on the reworded Juneteenth ordinance is scheduled for next week. 

(5/4) Detroit Police and Fire Retirement System, Board of Trustees: Amidst recent bank failures, the board’s chief investment officer is confident that PFRS investments still appear strong.

Has our work made a difference to you?

Detroit Documenters has reached a new record: 70 Documenters have each taken an assignment in the last 90 days. We also have 371 other Documenters trained to cover meetings and able to participate in our network. There are more of us than ever helping Detroiters understand and participate in our city. 

We hope our work has helped Detroiters to take action, connect with each other and understand important issues. But we would love to know: 

How has Detroit Documenters made a difference to you? Hit reply or drop a line to lynelle@outliermedia.org.

Get Involved

Upcoming training and events

In-Person Orientation + Covering Your Local Government
Tomorrow! May 10, 5-7:30 p.m.

Join us for free food and civic opportunity. We’ll show you how to monitor local government for the public good and how to get paid to take notes at public meetings. At the end of the training, you will be eligible to take paid assignments as a Detroit Documenter. Register today

Outlier Media paid summer internship
Applications due May 15
Outlier Media’s inaugural summer internship position is an opportunity for a local college student to work in our Detroit newsroom. The program will run from June 20-Aug. 25, 2023, and applications are due by 5 p.m. on May 15. Apply now!

Work for the Documenters Network!
Applications due May 21
Are you a community-builder with strong project management and communication skills? City Bureau is searching for its next Documenters Network Coordinator to grow and cultivate relationships with engaged community members. This position is remote. Applications close May 21. Read the job description and apply to join the team!

Detroit Documenters Community of Practice 
May 31, 6-7:30 p.m.
The Detroit Documenters Community of Practice is an opportunity to talk with Documenters, ask questions, share insights, brainstorm ideas or just hang out! This casual online workshop is open to the community — you don’t need to have attended a Documenters training. Whether you’ve taken no assignments or 50, come connect with other civically active Detroiters. Register to join us.

Share your thoughts, Detroit Documenters!
We want the Detroit Documenters program to be a great experience for all, even if it’s been a while since you’ve taken an assignment. Tell us what you’d like to see.

Office hours
Tuesdays, 2-4 p.m.

Drop in to ask questions, pitch ideas, discuss assignments or just hang out. You can even get personalized training on topics like live-tweeting or improving your notes. Visit our office or join us virtually on Zoom!

Lynelle (she/her) likes working with Documenters because she thinks it’s important for us to share our news and our voices with our neighbors and networks. Her favorite spaces in Detroit are the urban gardens that promote peace, hope, health and healing.

Noah (he/him) believes people benefit their communities when they create civic media and commit acts of journalism. He enjoys being anywhere with live music or tacos.

Malak (she/her) believes in local journalism that provides people with verified and comprehensive information. Her favorite places to unwind and pick up a new read are at Detroit’s bookstores and libraries.