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Detroit Journalism Cooperative

Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

Update: 5/24/2017 The business, Hammer Time True Value Hardware, closed shortly after the interview with owner Bill Kamman. That leaves another substantial gap in the business district on E. Warren Avenue in the MorningSide neighborhood.

There are small business districts throughout Detroit that are barely hanging on. They were once thriving. But population loss and the loss of wealth in the neighborhoods have created hard times for neighborhood businesses. The question is: what to do with them now?

BRIDGE MAGAZINE: How to cash in on a crappy home. Step one: Find a sucker to sign a land contract.

May 18, 2017
Bridge photo by Joel Kurth

Denise Pope put a down payment on hope as much as a house.

Sure, the home wasn’t much: An 800-square-foot wood bungalow, barely big enough to contain her four children and husband. There were holes in the walls, probably from thieves getting to copper pipes. Like most empty Detroit homes, it lacked a furnace and water heater.

But it was in a good neighborhood, Rosedale Park, near a big playground. And the house came with a promise: Put $3,500 down, pay $500 per month plus $82 in taxes, and it would be hers in a little over two years.  

BRIDGE MAGAZINE: Mom has sick husband, baby – and looming deportation to ‘home’ she’s never known

May 11, 2017

Maria Garcia Juarez hasn’t been to Mexico since she was a baby.

She is now 23. But with wavy, long dark hair, big brown eyes and a petite, delicate stature, the Detroit wife and mother looks more like a teenager than the criminal the U.S. government considers her to be.

Interactive Map: Detroit water shutoffs by neighborhood

May 2, 2017
water faucet
Laura Nawrocik / Flickr http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

Last year, more than 27,000 Detroit homes had water shut off because of what the city says were unpaid bills. In some neighborhoods, 1-in-5 homes lost water access. To find your neighborhood, type in your Detroit address in the box in the upper right. When the map zooms in, click on the map for more information.

Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

Detroit might be one of the largest socio-economic laboratories in the world. Billionaires are rehabbing iconic downtown buildings. The federal government is funding demolition of tens of thousands of abandoned houses. And private foundations are testing out all kinds of projects to see what might spark neighborhood revival.

Book cover: "The Intersection: What Detroit has gained, and lost, 50 years after the uprisings of 1967."
Courtesy of Lester Graham

 

This year marks 50 years since the 1967 uprising in Detroit. A new book reflects on what's happened since those hot, angry four days in July. 

Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan speaking where he plans to build Ella Fitzgerald Park on the city's northwest side
Bryce Huffman / Michigan Radio

Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan says neighborhoods won't be left out of the city's comeback.

Duggan announced his two year plan to invest $4 million into the Fitzgerald neighborhood on the city's northwest side, near Livernois and McNichols.

The project aims to rehab 115 vacant homes and 192 vacant lots, create a two-acre park, and build a bike path between Marygrove College and the University of Detroit Mercy.

Maurice Cox, the planning director for the project, says the goal is to create something seldom seen in the city.

BRIDGE MAGAZINE: One promise Mike Duggan can’t keep?

Mar 30, 2017

Home sales with mortgages are rare in Detroit, occurring in just a few areas. Use the slider in the middle of the image below to see where the cash sales (red) are compared with sales via mortgages (blue).

for the map/Bridge map by Mike Wilkinson:

Few mortgages in Detroit

Most home sales in Detroit require cash; only 19 percent of the 3,800 sales in 2016 involved a mortgage, reflecting the difficulty to secure loans in a city where property values are less than half what they were a decade ago. Click on a marker to get more information, including price and year the home was built.

Source: RealComp II

If Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan is to be taken at his word, perhaps he shouldn’t be running for re-election this year.

Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

Many Detroit neighborhoods need help. A lot of blocks are little more than a couple of occupied homes, a few abandoned houses, some burned out structures, and overgrown vacant lots.

Between 1970 and 2010 Detroit lost more than 228 thousand occupied housing units according to a recent report by the Urban Institute. 

The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation today announced a grant of $1.475 million to continue the work of the Detroit Journalism Cooperative (DJC) in reporting on community life and the city of Detroit’s future. The grant will help support news in the public interest and improve the quality and quantity of news coverage about Detroit.

Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

Downtown Detroit is in a revival, but neighborhoods across the city are still declining. One of the reasons is the onslaught of tax foreclosures.  Those foreclosure mean more vacant houses. Soon the homes are stripped by scrappers, and the destruction can affect the whole block.

Ulysses Jones drove me around his neighborhood, MorningSide, on Detroit’s east side. He’s with a community organization also called MorningSide.

DetroitMI.gov

Detroit is still on track to exit state financial oversight next year, despite having to make unexpected pension payouts out of its annual budgets.

That’s what Mayor Mike Duggan told the City Council at a preview of his proposed 2017-18 budget on Thursday.

The pension liabilities are not included in the city’s bankruptcy-court mandated plan of adjustment—something Duggan says was “concealed” from him by former emergency manager Kevyn Orr during the bankruptcy.

According to Laura Reese, while Midtown Detroit is seeing some income growth, the rest of the city is only getting worse
Wikimedia user, Andrew Jameson / http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

Over the past several years, the conventional wisdom has been that Detroit is recovering. Every new restaurant, boutique store, or retail chain setting up shop in Detroit is offered as proof.

There’s a major flaw in that assessment.

The focus of recent development has been the city’s central business districts. Meanwhile, the people in the neighborhoods are not sharing in that prosperity. If anything, the plight of Detroit’s long-time residents has been getting worse.

Lester Graham

In Detroit, jobs are scarce. Money is short.

That has led to an underground economy that one Detroit reporter calls a “gift economy.”

Valerie Vande Panne’s piece is titled “Life Without Money in Detroit’s Survival Economy.” 

Screenshot from the Pathways to Prison trailer

Tonight at 8 p.m., Detroit Public Television will debut a new documentary focused on the high rate of imprisonment in the U.S. and Michigan.

It's entitled Pathways to Prison.

Courtesy: St. Louis Public Radio

Racial tensions between white people and people of color are reaching levels not seen since the 1960s and ‘70s.

Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

At one time, Detroit’s black families had one of the highest home ownership rates in the nation. Now that rate is among the lowest. Every year in Detroit, thousands of people lose their homes to tax foreclosures. In many cases, it is unnecessary. The city is accused of illegal taxes and denying tax exemptions homeowners deserved.

When I got to Darryl and Alisa Beavers' house, I was greeted by Jackson, their small dog. They’ve been living in a three-bedroom, two bath, 1,600 square foot home on Detroit’s east side. There are a lot of nice houses in this neighborhood.

Andrew Colom and Davide Alade
Mercedes Mejia / Michigan Radio

When we talk about investment in Detroit, the likes of Dan Gilbert or Christopher Ilitch come to mind. Certainly Gilbert has led the way in buying downtown buildings, reshaping the look of downtown Detroit. 

But today, we're going to look at investment in Detroit's neighborhoods.

Andrew Colom and David Alade both gave up jobs to move to Detroit and launch an investment company called Century Partners

Their idea was to invest in Detroit's neighborhoods, and to close the wealth disparity gap by helping people invest in the rehabilitation of their neighborhoods. 

Headshot of Gary Brown, Director of the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department
Courtesy of Detroit City Council website

After heavy storms led to flooding in Detroit this summer, 800 people filed claims asking for help dealing with the damages.

The Detroit Water and Sewerage Department and the Great Lakes Water Authority will eventually have to figure out which claims each department is responsible for settling.

But in the meantime, officials are going to start paying out settlements. Director of the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department Gary Brown says he wants to get money in the hands of customers as soon as possible.

From left to right: EAA chancellor Veronica Confirme, DPSCD interim superintendent Alycia Meriweather, DPSCD transition manager Steven Rhodes.
Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

What remains of the Education Achievement Authority will merge with Detroit’s public schools district, then dissolve next July.

That’s when the EAA, Governor Snyder’s fumbled attempt at a state-run “turnaround district” for the lowest-performing schools, will finally cease to exist.

Making that transition as smooth as possible will be the mission between now and July, according to Detroit Public Schools Community District transition manager Steven Rhodes.

Prison bars
flickr user Thomas Hawk / http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

Michigan Radio is involved with several news media partners in a project called the Detroit Journalism Cooperative. One of the issues we're looking at this year is justice, things such as mass incarceration and wrongful conviction. 

There's a nationwide network of legal clinics that are working to litigate claims of actual innocence by prisoners. Many of these clinics base their work on DNA evidence which has led to clearing the names and the release of hundreds of people. 

At the University of Michigan, the Michigan Innocence Clinic operates a little differently. It pursues cases in which DNA evidence is not available. 

Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

In 1967, many American cities were rocked by civil disturbances, including Detroit. Black people rose up against police brutality and unfair treatment.

Razor wire at a Detroit police station.
Tim Jones / Flickr - http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

Heather Ann Thompson has been in the news recently because of the success of her new book, Blood in the Water: The Attica Prison Uprising of 1971 and its Legacy, a nonfiction finalist this year for the National Book Award.

(Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio)

Detroit's immigrant population is on the rise once again.

After taking a dip between 2000 and 2010, the number of immigrants in the city has grown more than 12% since then, according to U.S. Census Bureau data analyzed by the non-profit group Global Detroit.

That accounts for more than 4,000 new Detroiters, says Global Detroit Executive Director Steve Tobocman.

“That is a major turnaround, and hopefully it’s a bellwether for the stabilization of neighborhoods in the city of Detroit,” Tobocman said.

DWSD

Detroit found more lead in drinking water samples this summer than it has in recent years, and there’s a few reasons to account for the uptick.  

Unofficial results posted this month by the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department show Detroit’s water is safe to drink by federal standards.

Brandy Gutierrez was evicted from her house in Lincoln Park. She says no one told her it had gone into tax foreclosure until it was too late.
Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

In Wayne County, tens of thousands of properties go into tax foreclosure every year.

Most are in Detroit. But it happens in the suburbs too.

Some suburban communities have started buying those tax-foreclosed homes, and turning them over to developers.

But many of the affected homeowners didn’t know that until it was too late to save their homes.

Some tried to fight anyway. But this month, that fight came to a bitter end.

VIDEO: Interview with Russell Simmons

Oct 31, 2016
Russell Simmons.
DPTV

We sat down with entrepreneur, author, clothing line creator, and film and music producer Russell Simmons to get his take on the state of police and justice for Chapter 6 in our Detroit Journalism Cooperative series: Justice.

Simmons talks about the frequency that African Americans are being killed by police which has shocked a nation. He also speaks about the importance of having African American police officers in urban areas like Detroit.

Watch the clips below:

Public Act 343 makes Michigan the 32nd state to provide exonorees with compensation for time served.
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

The prison reform movement in Michigan – and across much of the nation – is one of the rare issues in this contentious era that attracts support from individuals, public officials and organizations with a wide variety of agendas and political views.

Grosse Pointe Farms Municipal Court

Black and white residents of southeast Michigan differ in their perceptions of how people of color are treated in local courts, according to a recent poll commissioned by the Detroit Journalism Cooperative.

About half – 49%– of African-Americans surveyed said blacks were treated worse in the courtrooms, but just 16% of whites agreed. Nearly two-thirds – 64% – of whites said they think blacks are treated the same as whites, but only 40% of African Americans agreed that treatment is similar.

Max Nussenbaum is the CEO of Castle, a company looking to make property management simpler and more efficient
Courtesy of Generation Startup

What's the barrier between you and the life you truly want to lead?

That's one of the questions Cheryl Miller Houser explores as co-director of the documentary film Generation Startup.

It follows some young entrepreneurs as they build startups in Detroit. They try, stumble, learn, and try again.

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