Skip to comments.Shrinking Detroit has 12,000 abandoned homes
Posted on 08/15/2005 9:59:30 AM PDT by Pikamax
Shrinking Detroit has 12,000 abandoned homes Sun Aug 14, 5:03 PM ET
Rats or lead poisoning. When it comes to the threats from the broken down house next door, Dorothy Bates isn't sure which is worse.
"When it's lightening and thundering you can hear the bricks just falling," the 40-year-old nurse said as she looked at the smashed windows and garbage-strewn porch. "If you call and ask (the city) about it they say they don't have the funds to tear it down."
There are more than 12,000 abandoned homes in the Detroit area, a byproduct of decades of layoffs at the city's auto plants and white flight to the suburbs. And despite scores of attempts by government and civic leaders to set the city straight, the automobile capitol of the world seems trapped in a vicious cycle of urban decay.
Detroit has lost more than half its population since its heyday in the 1950's. The people who remain are mostly black -- 83 percent -- and mostly working class, with 30 percent of the population living below the poverty line according to the US Census Bureau.
The schools are bad. The roads are full of potholes. Crime is high and so are taxes. The city is in a budget crisis so deep it could end up being run by the state.
And it just got knocked off the list of the nation's ten largest cities.
"Detroit has become an icon of what's considered urban decline," said June Thomas, a professor of urban and regional planning at Michigan State University.
"The issue is not just getting people in the city. It's getting people in the city who can become property owners and stay property owners and pay taxes."
Perhaps the biggest challenge to luring the middle class from the area's swank suburbs is overcoming racial tensions, said Stephen Vogel, dean of the school of architecture at University of Detroit Mercy.
"Suburbanites are taking the bodies of their relatives out of cemeteries because they're afraid to come to the city," Vogel said. "There are about 400 to 500 hundred (being moved) a year which shows you the depth of racism and fear."
Most American cities have experienced a shift towards the suburbs.
What made Detroit's experience so stark was the lack of regional planning and the ease with which developments were able to incorporate into new cities in order to avoid sharing their tax revenue with the city, said Margaret Dewar, a professor of urban and regional planning at the University of Michigan.
The fleeing businesses and homeowners left behind about 36 square miles (58 square kilometers) of vacant land. That's roughly the size of San Francisco and about a quarter of Detroit's total land mass.
While a decision by General Motors to build its new headquarters smack in the middle of downtown has helped lure young professionals and spark redevelopment in some of the more desirable neighborhoods, there is little hope the vacant land will be filled any time soon.
In his state of the city address, embattled mayor Kwame Kilpatrick said even if 10,000 new homes were built every year for the next 15 years "we wouldn't fill up our city."
And Detroit is still losing about 10,000 people every year.
One solution Vogel has proposed is to turn swaths of the city into farmland. In the four years since his students initiated a pilot project dozens of community gardens and small farms have popped up.
But first the city has to get rid of the crumbling buildings that haunt the streets, luring criminals, arsonists and wild animals and creating a general sense of hopelessness.
"It's partly a resource issue and it's partly a bureaucracy issue," said Eric Dueweke, the community partnership manager at the University of Michigan's College of Architecture and Urban Planning.
"It takes them forever to find the proper owners of the properties and serve them with the proper paperwork," he said. "They're tearing them down at the rate of 1,500 or 2,000 a year, so they're really not cutting into the backlog in any significant way because that's how many are coming on stream."
Dorothy Bates has been waiting three years for the crumbling house next door to be torn down. There are nine more on her short block along with several vacant lots that are overgrown with weeds.
Bates does her best to keep her five children away from the rat nests, but the lead creeping out of crumbling bricks and peeling paint drifts in through her windows.
The most frustrating part of it, says her neighbor Larry, is that so many of the abandoned houses could be repaired. The foundations are solid. The buildings are beautiful. Or at least, they were once.
Oh, OK. Like I said, anywhere in Cal is paradise compared to the nightmare known as Detroit. I'd pay 3x the taxes to live in Cal than that place.
You are correct, buy low, sell high. The first of the two steps is to buy low.
However, in a hard left liberal run victimhood stronghold like Detroit as soon as someone shows up with money buying properties, the city will hit them with costs to clean up the rats, lead, asbestos, maintaining the property and anything else liberals object to, or want someone else to pay for.
The new owners will also likely be hit with numerous lawsuits from neighbors for the above items and anything else a lawyer can dream up.
Im sure there is money to be made, but its not without many risks.
Detroit real estate would be a GREAT purchase if one was a seventeen year old kid with a valuable trust fund and had sufficient time to sit upon the investment.
Anyone in their thirties or older will be dead long before Detroit can regain its stature as a top-tier American city, IMHO.
~ Blue Jays ~
They need to raise the taxes on the welfare recipients....as no one has a job in Detroit...other than a government job...
In Los Angeles, Skid Row is now becoming a Chi Chi area for yuppies to live. Old $2 a night flophouses and industrial warehouses have been converted to $2000 + a month 1 bedroom lofts for Yuppies to live in.
I don't think anyone would have predicted this development 20 years ago.
Can you imagine the virtual TRACTS of land that an aggressive buyer could purchase for a song in the worst Detroit neighborhoods? A couple hundred thousand dollars could probably net several square blocks, if I had to take a guess.
I'm not a gambler by nature, but it would be pretty cool to pony-up the money and subsequently hit a homerun. This is what happened to people who invested in Hoboken and Jersey City, NJ or Brooklyn, NY twenty years ago...they're millionaires now. Sometimes makes me wish that I wasn't so averse to financial risk.
~ Blue Jays ~
Perhaps the biggest challenge to luring the middle class from the area's swank suburbs is overcoming
racial tensions the crime problem. . . .
which shows you the depth of
racism and fear the crime problem. . . .
2000 Median income $31,543 Provo, $41,189 Detroit.
Property Tax Rate for Detroit .031, Provo .0063.
Burn them down.
12,000 abandoned homes equates to 48,000 Democratic votes.
Good point, I'll bet every one of those homes is occupied on election day.
So does St. Louis.
Lesee now Buffalo, East St Louis, Gary, Indianapolis, Louisville...
"But first the city has to get rid of the crumbling buildings that haunt the streets, luring criminals, arsonists and wild animals and creating a general sense of hopelessness."
"luring wild animals - - "
Detroit should talk to GangGreen and Lil Debbie about getting Federal money to establish an "endangered panther" program. After a panther 'dissed' a druggie, that panther would most certainly be "endangered", Endangered Speices Act or no Endangered Species Act. ;o)
Then GangGreen could ask for more 'enforcement personnel' to protect the cats.
And the battle would be on!
Cat lovers and GangGreen against the druggies - can I claim TV rights?
The minute you come in there writing checks, you'll pop up on the government looters' radar screen and they'll grind you down until they have vaccumed every last dime possible out of your wallet and leave your big plans for big money in Detroit real estate in tatters.
Another house was abandoned today as my caucasian daughter and husband were forced out of their house today. Three years ago they bought a wonderful old house to renovate. When it was just about done, a suspicious fire destroyed everything. They were determined to start again, but the bank forclosed on them and today were locked out. Detroit will never revive because of the policies of the city goverment. They turned the lights out when they left.
Friends don't let friends live in Detriot or is that Cleveland?
I bet the local pols are still talking about having a homeless problem.
They just need reperations...thats all
One of my fonder memories is seeing Detroit disappear in my rearview mirror for the very last time.