The 2010 census is expected to reveal a population of about 800,000, down from a peak of 1.8 million in the 1950s.
The long decline of the car industry and all its spin-off business has been exacerbated by the collapse of a housing market that has left prices close to what they were 50 years ago, when lifestyle magazines featured Detroit as the most desirable city in the United States.
Decent three-bedroom homes can be bought for $10,000, but no one wants to buy. Plans currently being devised would be the most revolutionary carried out by a major American city. Large chunks of neighborhoods would be razed and converted to parks, urban farms or simply abandoned. The city plans to demolish 3,000 homes this year, and a further 7,000 over the following three years. Some are speculating that up to 40,000 homes could eventually go.
In Detroit’s Brightmoor neighbourhood on the city’s northwest side, it is easy to see the logic of his vision. On many blocks only two or three homes are inhabited, the rest have been vacated by repossession, abandoned or burned down by arsonists. They become magnets for rodents, rubbish or drug gangs.
This has prompted cries of “ethnic cleansing” and “cleansing of the poor”, accusations that defenders of the idea say ring hollow in a city that is 85 per cent black, whose top officials are mostly black, and where poverty rates are way above the national average.
Almost a third of the city’s 139 square miles is vacant or derelict, though its land area would comfortably fit Manhattan, San Francisco and Boston, cities with combined populations of three million.
Title: Detroit to Bulldoze Thousands Of Homes in Fight For Survival
Source: Telegraph, London, 28 May 2010
Author: Alex Spillius in Detroit
US Source: The Global Report: Agrnews.org, June 4, 2010Faculty Evaluator; Peter Phillips, Sonoma State University