CRAIN'S DETROIT BUSINESS: Study: Detroit not improving residents' health, quality of life

By Tyler Clifford

Detroit has made no headway in passing new policies that could improve health and quality of life for people in the city, according to the latest CityHealth report.

The report says the city lags others such as New York, Chicago and Boston, all of which received gold medals overall for "smart policymaking." Detroit did not receive an overall medal.

Maryland-based de Beaumont Foundation and Oakland, Calif.-based Kaiser Permanente funded the study to grade the country's 40 biggest cities on nine health-related policy categories. The group rates each city on each topic with medals that range descending from gold, silver, bronze and no medal. CityHealth released its first report, which was built on two years of research, in February 2017.

Detroit retained gold medals for anti-smoking and street safety rules and a silver medal for universal pre-K programs, but its no-medal rating stayed the same for six other categories.

The city has not adopted evidence-based policies to merit a medal for the following categories, according to the release:

  • affordable housing
  • alcohol sales control
  • earned sick leave
  • food safety/restaurant grading
  • healthy food procurement
  • tobacco

While it takes time to install new rules, CityHealth President Shelley Hearne said the study found that no new laws were put on the books for the nine policy areas since the organization released its first report more than a year ago.

"According to our legal assessment, nothing has changed in Detroit," she said. "Detroit has actually been the city that has been on our radar screen because it has faced a lot of challenges, but is also going through a revitalization.

"There are now challenges with affordable housing as new investments are coming."

CityHealth contends Detroit can "show leadership by implementing evidence-based policies" that can improve the workplace, school, housing and public transportation.

A representative for Detroit's Health Department was not immediately available for comment.

For more information on the study and Detroit's ratings, visit cityhealthdata.org/city/Detroit.