Detroit is back. But for whom?

Detroit is the darling of the national media. But can its comeback benefit longtime residents?

That’s a defining question these days in Detroit, whose revival from bankruptcy just a few years ago is prompting difficult questions about whether the city’s rising tide can lift all.

To be sure, any talk about revitalization must acknowledge there’s still a long way to go.

Because while poverty has declined to 35.7 percent in 2016 and neighborhood services are improving, some say it’s difficult to argue that Detroit is gentrifying in any traditional sense –  an influx of new residents who descend into neighborhoods and price out longtime neighbors.

“If the definition of gentrification is that people are getting displaced because of a rise of taxes or property values, we’re not really seeing that anywhere,” said Sam Butler, executive director of Doing Development Differently in Metro Detroit (D4), a nonprofit that advocates for policies that protect long-term residents.

In some ways, voters weighed in on the debate last month, with the overwhelming re-election of Mayor Mike Duggan (who scoffs at talk of “Two Detroits”) over state Sen. Coleman A. Young III (whose campaign was based on the argument that city policies favor a prosperous few.)

Butler wants the discussion continue. His group, known as D4, led community conversations this fall about so-called equitable development –  requiring input from neighbors, local hiring and other benefits before the city grants subsidies to developments. More forums are planned early next year.

Done right, development downtown and Midtown should help all residents, Butler argued.

Eric Seymour contends the focus on the city’s core detracts attention and resources from neighborhoods.

Seymour, a researcher at Brown University, has studied Detroit for years. He argues that displacement in Detroit isn’t from gentrification, but tens of thousands of poor people losing their homes and apartments because of a housing crisis that is still unfolding. City leaders, he argued, are doing next to nothing to stop the hemorrhaging.

Bridge Magazine recently talked to both about Detroit and its future. Follow the links below for the conversations.

BUTLER: Detroit is booming. Let’s ensure the comeback benefits all.

SEYMOUR: What gentrification? Much of Detroit is getting worse.

Facts matter. Trust matters. Journalism matters.

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Kevin Grand
Thu, 12/21/2017 - 12:37pm

BOTH of these gentlemen are grossly mistaken if they think that the government has ANY role whatsoever in remedying this "problem".

And I used "problem" in quotes because no one actually has the right to own a home. It just isn't there, so there's no point in arguing for it.

Secondly, it can be argued that the government's involvement has done nothing but add to the problem for at least half a century. When it's actually not your money at risk and there is no downside for you when you screw up (and boy did the government screw up!), the outcome that we're seeing today should not be a surprise to anyone.

And if anyone wants to get angry about something, they should get angry at the proposed "solution" to this problem. It shouldn't surprise anyone why they've kept this hidden from the public for this long. Short version; Michigan, Wayne County and Detroit want to literally give away the store to attract a business to relocate here, while simultaneously denying the same benefit to those WHO ARE ALREADY LIVING HERE.

Third, the comments Rich made on the other piece related to this story is why this will all topple like a house of cards. When Detroit needs to pull close to its full freight again financially, after it "sweetened the pot" (or bribed...take your pick) to attract all that business with public money, it will not be able to afford to fund its core functions and then everything will collapse one more time.

And guess where the attention will be focused to bail them out again?

Thu, 12/21/2017 - 2:58pm

I am familiar with the Liv6 Alliance that is developing the Avenue of Fashion along Livernois Avenue in the heart of the Sherwood Forest, University District, and Green Acres being acred by the Univ of Detroit Mercy. It appears to be a good public, private, govt partnership. However, many parts of Detroit is heavily populated with Generational Comfortable Poverty with education not on the top of the list for many of the residents. Remember, ~75% of births in Detroit are to single mothers already in poverty for the past 5 decades. Not sure what programs can change that culture and those particular residential neighborhoods.