Jocelyn Benson with people in the background
Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson, center, cuts a ceremonial ribbon signifying the opening of a new branch office in Detroit on Wednesday, June 15, 2022. (BridgeDetroit Photo by Malachi Barrett).

The Secretary of State has opened a branch office in Detroit’s Midtown to bring more equitable service to residents nearby. 

Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson said the location, which opened this month at 580 E. Warren Avenue was selected based on population growth in the area and to take pressure off of the next closest branch office in New Center.

Benson said community partners in the area have been pushing for better access and she’s looking to place more offices in Detroit based on need. 

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“Everyone deserves easy access to government services in convenient locations,” Benson said. “But as we know, it hasn’t always been that way. The opening of this new office really addresses decades of disinvestment and office closures in Detroit.”

Benson said two offices, including a downtown location, closed in recent years. The Midtown office is adjacent to a grocery store and credit union between Woodward and Interstate 75. It’s the sixth branch office in Detroit, with others located near the edge of city limits in Hamtramck, Hazel Park and Dearborn. 

Self-serve kiosks are available in 13 locations across the city, including grocery and convenience stores. The SOS, Benson noted, also launched a mobile office in southeast Michigan that visits senior centers, shelters for people experiencing homelessness and neighborhoods where residents lack transportation. 

“When I took office, I noticed that more than any other place in the state, Detroit has lost the most number of offices,” Benson said. “It was really important to reopen services here. You also have a higher concentration of residents who can’t necessarily access online services or easily travel to offices that are far away. We took all of those things into consideration as well.”

More than a quarter of the city’s households and 70% of school-age children don’t have home broadband, ranking Detroit among the five least-connected cities in the country.

The Rev. David R. Jarrett, Sr. of Bethel AME Church called the Midtown office “significant” for Detroiters in the area during a Wednesday ribbon-cutting ceremony. The event was attended by representatives of the city, Wayne State University, the Detroit Public Library, Midtown Detroit, Inc., and Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History. 

“It’s good to see this branch coming to us, that we can be partners with each other,” Jarrett said. 

In a 2020 community update, Midtown Detroit reported a population of 20,377 between Midtown, Techtown and New Center, a 19% increase from 2010.

The Midtown SOS office is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on weekdays, except Wednesdays, when it is open 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. A self-service station, which can be used to print tabs, registrations, temporary licenses and IDs, is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week. 

Benson’s administration has installed 160 self-service machines statewide, boasting that 60% of all transactions are conducted outside of Secretary of State offices. However, Benson noted the so-called digital divide in Detroit, which prevents many residents from accessing online services due to poor internet connectivity.

State Reps. Stephanie Chang, D-Detroit, and Abraham Aiyash, D-Hamtramck, celebrated the new office opening in statements this week. 

“My office hears regularly from our residents about wanting closer connection to government,” Chang said. “Despite previous efforts, Detroit has generally not had enough important services. Secretary Benson has done an incredible job of expanding accessibility and options across the state, and we are grateful for the new Midtown location.”

Residents can access Secretary of State online services at Michigan.gov/SOS. They can schedule an office visit at the same site or by calling 888-SOS-MICH.

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