Detroit JCC

The Jewish Community Center in the Oak Park section of Detroit is set to close its doors this May, after a committee recommendation that the center be shut down due to financial deficits.

While many people see this as the end result of years of financial problems within the city itself, others are viewing it as the product of poor management from those in charge.

The Center

Officially known as the Jewish Community Center of Metropolitan Detroit, it was constructed in 1956 and has served a vital role in the community over the last six decades. It is situated next to a senior citizen complex, many of whom benefit from the center, and has a gym, park, and many meeting rooms. All told, the Jewish Community Center has been used as a resource for the large Jewish population in the metro area, and most people are saddened by the news that it will likely be closing within months. Yet, there is a sense that more could have been done to prevent this from happening.

Hastings from Detroit Federation on Vimeo.

Financial Problems In The Jewish Community Center

It was unclear just how much of a financial problem the center had just two years ago when they hired Issner and Associates Co. LLC to act as the CEO for the organization that oversees the operations and budget. They found that they were at an annual loss of one million dollars, and still held a significant amount of debt that had to be handled before they could even explore other options for the community center. Now, after taking over three million dollars from the Jewish Federation, the company still owes over two million, while operating with a yearly loss approaching another million. With maintenance costs rising on the old building, it is no longer economically viable to keep the building running.

Mismanagement To Blame

Even though it looks like it could be the end for the Jewish Community Center, many people are able to identify the source of the problem: years of financial mismanagement. With huge deficits piling up, it is difficult for many people to believe that nobody saw the signs of failure coming.  With a competing club across the city in West Bloomfield, residents closer to the Oak Park center feel as though money is being sent to the other club to cater to the more wealthy residents in that area. Now feeling cut off from a precious financial resource, the people who have used this Jewish Community Center are hoping that the next vote brings word of a plan to save the community center in some way.

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