DETROIT — The federal fingerprint in efforts to fix Detroit is growing larger as the Obama administration has found millions of dollars in grant money to help the bankrupt city hire more police and firefighters, and clear out blighted neighborhoods.
But considering the Motor City is at least $18 billion in debt, it will take a far larger infusion of cash or historic deals with bond holders, insurance companies and other creditors to correct the problem.
Four high-ranking White House officials were to discuss federal efforts and other opportunities Friday during a closed-door meeting at Wayne State University with Gov. Rick Snyder, state-appointed emergency manager Kevyn Orr, Mayor Dave Bing and community and business leaders.
The federal money being directed Detroit’s way by the U.S. government totals more than $100 million and will be augmented by millions of dollars more in resources from foundations and Detroit businesses, but it falls far short of the wider bailout some in the city had sought.
“Something is better than nothing,” said Bridgette Shephard, 47, a social worker who lives in Detroit. “A bailout would have been better, but if we can sustain some of our needs with grants that would be a start. Let’s take it. Whatever kind of money it is to benefit the city, I’m all for it.”
Gene Sperling, chief economic adviser to President Barack Obama, said the administration scrounged through the federal budget and found untapped money that “either had not flowed or had not gotten out or not directed to the top priorities for Detroit.”
Sperling and three other top Obama aides — U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx and HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan — will meet with state and local officials Friday.
The Obama administration repeatedly had signaled it would not offer a massive federal bailout like the one credited with helping rescue Chrysler and General Motors.