Thursday, May 24, 2012

Encourage residents to leave

Back in July of 2009 I wrote a post about Detroit that said politicians are just beginning to discuss how to right-size the city. It's a city built for nearly 2,000,000 in which about 700,000 remain. That's a bit over a third of the peak population. I mention that earlier post for a couple reasons.

The first is that it is the most accessed post that I've written, viewed 471 times as of today. It is frequently at the top of the most accessed posts for a week or month (though not for this week). I have no idea why this one gets so much attention. It isn't what I want to be known for. I think for some unknown reason a Russian site linked to it. And at the moment my readership in Russia is three times my American audience. I would appreciate any Russian readers leaving a comment about why you read this site.

The second reason to mention that earlier post is because of an article in the Sunday Free Press of last weekend. Detroit is trying some ideas in reducing what parts of the city need (and get) services, such as street lights. Something needs to happen because the city's finances are so bad they are being overseen by an outside committee (and that's a long story I won't get into).

So city managers have rated each neighborhood as Steady, Distressed, or a couple values in between. Those tagged as distressed usually have high numbers of abandoned homes. The city has decided these neighborhoods aren't worth rescuing, especially since there isn't enough money to do the job. Home owners will no longer be able to get grants or loans to fix the property (any kind of fix-up would cost more money than the home is worth). Street lights won't be fixed, and other services curtailed or eliminated. Businesses will be discouraged from investing in these areas.

The goal is to encourage the residents to leave. Since most of them can't afford to move, the city may soon start a program in which they offer a house swap, giving the resident a city-owned property in a much better neighborhood. The city does not have enough money to buy out all affected residents, but does have a large inventory of homes that it owns by default.

Some residents like the idea, especially those who have reported three break-ins within just a few months. But those who have grown up in a house are much more reluctant to leave.

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