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into detroit

August 4, 2011

Some good friends of mine have decided to start looking at houses in Detroit. Their current mortgage is a mess and they’re seriously thinking about moving to the Woodbridge/Midtown area. They’ve also launched a new site for those who want to be a part of Detroit’s ‘renaissance.’

Personally, I’m a bit skeptical that Detroit will ever be the city it once was; but Detroit will never recover if people don’t start taking a chance and moving back. That way, the city can start to regain some of its tax revenue and begin trying to improve its failing schools and infrastructure. Then maybe the job market will improve as companies start to see that it’s worth investing in the city again.

So, as much as I have reservations about people idealizing Detroit’s so-called renaissance, I don’t think such a rebirth will be possible without people moving back and becoming passionate about making Detroit their home.

I just hope this potential renaissance doesn’t become a negative example of gentrification, where an influx of wealthier, predominately white families start to flood the nicer areas, driving up property values, rent, taxes, etc., pushing out the poor and predominately African-American families who can no longer afford to live in the ‘up and coming’ areas. That would almost certainly inflame the racial tension that’s existed since at least the 60s, and create the political conditions for a return to the reactionary policies of Coleman Young.

At the very least, I think the city needs a combination of things like strong rent-control laws, a strong push to develop frequent and reliable public transit and people who are willing to reach out to their community to really make this thing work. And if you happen to be one of those people, then I say more power to you.

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