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Detroit Journalism Cooperative

The Detroit Journalism Cooperative is an integrated community media network providing insight on the issues facing Detroit. It features two radio stations, an online magazine, five ethnic newspapers, and a public television station-- All working together to tell the story of Detroit.

The DJC includes Michigan Radio, Bridge Magazine, Detroit Public Television, WDET, and New Michigan Media. To see all the stories produced for the DJC, visit The Intersection website.

Scroll below to see DJC stories from Michigan Radio and other selected stories from our partners.

Foreclosed for the cost of an iPhone. That’s life in Wayne County.

May 17, 2018
foreclosed home
stock photo / Bridge Magazine

Antoinette Coleman lost her home for less than the cost of an iPhone.

After 30 years of paying the mortgage on her neat, three-bedroom brick home on Detroit’s east side, the retired Defense Department technician was foreclosed last year because of unpaid taxes of $291, records show.

Michigan Truth Squad: Bill Schuette’s stand on transparent government

May 9, 2018
Bill Schuette
Bridge Magazine

Republican gubernatorial candidates Attorney General Bill Schuette and Lt. Gov. Brian Calley have traded barbs in previous weeks over accusations of political showmanship and lack of conservative bonafides.

Now the question of whether both candidates have a plan to increase government accountability has taken to Twitter, where Schuette threw down the gauntlet over their transparency track records.

Michigan Truth Squad: Democrat candidates blast Nestlé’s ‘free’ water

May 8, 2018
Bridge photo by Jim Malewitz

The Democratic race for Michigan governor is getting spirited, but all three candidates still find plenty to agree on ‒ including criticism of the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality for granting Nestlé Waters North America permission to tap up to 400 gallons of water per minute (up from 250 gallons) from one Osceola County well.

A new bridge is dawning in Detroit. Matty Moroun isn’t the only one unhappy.

May 3, 2018
Gregg Wards owns the Detroit-Windsor Truck Ferry and has become one of the biggest champions of the Gordie Howe International Bridge, even though it will put him out of business.
(Bridge photo by Anthony Lanzilote)

Gregg Ward is a nice guy with a lousy view. His family business overlooks Detroit’s hell on earth: the hulking, pitch-black U.S. Steel plant on Zug Island whose blast furnaces belch 30-foot plumes of fire.

Next door, mixing trucks kick up dust at a massive concrete operation, the air is so thick that black grime coats street signs. Sometimes, when the wind shifts, the scent of chemicals gives way to feces from Detroit’s nearby wastewater treatment plant.

Michigan leaders want to make crumbling Detroit fort into national park

May 3, 2018
Historic Fort Wayne
Wikimedia Commons

A movement is afoot to make the historically rich but deteriorating Historic Fort Wayne in Southwest Detroit into a national park, Bridge Magazine has learned.

As construction is set to begin this fall on the $4.5 billion Gordie Howe International Bridge linking Detroit and Windsor, Ontario, community and state leaders increasingly are focusing on the future of the fort grounds that lie directly to the east.

Take a tour of MorningSide 48224 with Detroit Public TV

May 1, 2018
Corner of Mack and Alter
Detroit Public TV

Michigan Radio's Imani Mixon was on Detroit Public TV last weekend to discuss MorningSide 48224, the new podcast project by Michigan Radio and the Detroit Journalism Cooperative.

Watch below to get a tour of the neighborhood, and to learn more about the podcast:

One year in, Detroit’s QLine falling well short of expectations

May 1, 2018
The QLine on Woodward Ave.
Bridge Magazine

After a year of constant problems, the shiny electric streetcar that hums down Detroit’s main thoroughfare has proven more troubled than trusty.

The QLine, the privately operated streetcar that launched along 3.3 miles of Woodward Avenue last May, attracted less than half of its projected riders for several months its first year, as it was beset by traffic snarls and dwindling popularity.

Low-income Grand Rapids preschoolers are catching up. Will Lansing notice?

Apr 24, 2018
In a neighborhood in southwest Grand Rapids, teacher Lorena Lopez leads a group of 4-year-old students.
Photo courtesy of Early Learning Neighborhood Collaborative

In some of the poorest neighborhoods in Grand Rapids, in places inured to academic failure, children are grasping at a chance to defy the odds.

So it was one recent spring day, in a pre-K classroom on the city’s southwest side. In a poor, largely Hispanic neighborhood, where more than half of adults over age 25 lack a high school degree, a group 4-year-olds watched a classmate draw a “2” and a squiggly “0” on a whiteboard.

Their teacher, Sadie Kovich, asked: “What is it if the 2 is in front and a 0 is in back?”

This year, Michigan Radio is trying something new.

Instead of sending a reporter in to tell stories about MorningSide, we’re inviting the MorningSide community to tell their own stories.

From family histories to local happenings, we want to highlight narratives that feel true and honest to the people who experience the neighborhood every day.

Tax breaks for poor neighborhoods steered to booming pockets in Detroit

Mar 20, 2018
Downtown Detroit Skyline
Bridge Magazine / Bridge Magazine

Detroit is a city with abundant need. The poorest big city in America, there are few corners that couldn’t use help.

So critics wonder why a new federal tax incentive program – intended to benefit the poorest neighborhoods in the nation – is poised to help areas of Detroit that are doing the best. And it’s not just the Motor City; state officials have also designated areas in some affluent counties in northern Michigan.

Detroit schools chief: District can now pay for counselors, art classes, and gym in every school

Mar 14, 2018
Boy in classroom with his hand raised
Mercedes Mejia / Michigan Radio

After months spent talking about expensive new programs he’d like to see, Superintendent Nikolai Vitti says he’s found money in the Detroit district’s budget to hire a slew of educators who’ve been missing for years from city schools.

The budget framework he presented to a school board committee Friday calls for every city school to have a guidance counselor, an arts or music teacher, a gym teacher, and a “dean of school culture” who would be in charge of student discipline and creating in-school suspension programs.

Out of the limelight, Cindy Garcia keeps fighting for immigrant family reunification

Mar 13, 2018
Cindy Garcia
Georgi-Ann Bargamian / New Michigan Media

Cindy Garcia methodically sorts and folds #TeamGarcia fundraiser T-shirts in her Lincoln Park living room. The TV is on, the dog is barking, and her granddaughter is trying to get her attention.

It’s a typical Saturday for Garcia, wife of Jorge Garcia, who was deported to Mexico on Jan. 15. That’s the day Jorge Garcia became a Michigan flesh-and-blood symbol of the Trump Administration’s decision to make every undocumented individual in the United States subject to immediate removal.

Pension paybacks for Detroit district employees may show up in March

Feb 27, 2018
A person writing a check
RikkisRefuge Other / FLICKR - creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/legalcode

Thousands of Detroit district school employees may reap the benefits of a lawsuit over pension funding as soon as March.

School employees who worked for Detroit’s main district between 2010 and 2011 can expect refund checks in their mailboxes soon, district leaders say, but making sure the money ends up in the right place will be difficult.

The reimbursements are the outcome of a controversial move during Gov. Jennifer Granholm’s administration to withhold additional money from employees’ paychecks to pay for retiree health care benefits.

Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

The economy is booming and the unemployment rates for the nation and Michigan are low. In Detroit, the official rate has fallen dramatically since peaking at more than 28% in 2009.

But the rate that’s often cited only tells part of the story.

Michigan Radio is launching an innovative local project to give voice to residents of Detroit’s MorningSide neighborhood, as part of the station’s continued participation in the Detroit Journalism Cooperative. MorningSide is a neighborhood on the east side of Detroit, bounded by Harper Avenue and I-94 on the north, Mack Avenue to the south, East Outer Drive and Whittier on the east and Alter Road and East Outer Drive to the west.

How is Detroit Doing?

Dec 22, 2017
Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

When traveling out of state, people from Michigan often are asked, “Hey, how’s Detroit doing?”

The largest municipal bankruptcy and the subsequent stories about Detroit’s revival have captured the curiosity of the rest of the nation and the world.

Detroit’s successes in its business districts, downtown and Midtown, get most of the attention. Every billionaire’s acquisition, every refurbished building, every taxpayer assisted development have contributed to the conclusion that Detroit is America’s “Comeback City.”

Wealthy benefit most from Michigan’s energy savings plans, study finds

Dec 14, 2017
Consumers Energy's Karn peaker plant
Bridge Magazine

Michigan utilities spend tens of millions of dollars each year on rebates, energy audits, and other programs to help customers cut their energy bills.

Most of that spending isn’t helping the customers who could use the savings the most, according to a new study by researchers at the University of Michigan.

The study from the school’s Urban Energy Justice Lab found energy efficiency programs at Michigan’s two largest utilities disproportionately benefit wealthier ratepayers.

Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

Racial divisions are a major contributor to the decline of Detroit. White flight started after World War II and continued. There was a late spike in flight from the city after 2000. That’s when City of Detroit employees no longer had to live in the city. That’s led to lost wealth, lost tax revenue, and blighted neighborhoods.

Even when Detroit was majority white, racial lines were strictly drawn.

“You can’t underestimate the intensity of that segregation in housing and the role that it played in dividing metropolitan Detroit by race,” said Thomas Sugrue.

Detroit shut water to 1 in 10 homes this year. Yes, that’s progress.

Dec 5, 2017
A customer walks into a Detroit Water Department customer service center
Joel Kurth / Bridge Magazine

So far this year, Detroit has shut water to more homes than exist in all of Muskegon. One in 10 residential customers lost service, at least temporarily, in Detroit.

Detroit demo blitz linked to rising lead levels in children

Nov 14, 2017
measuring lead paint levels
Joel Kurth / Bridge Magazine

Lead levels among Detroit children are rising after decades of decline, and health officials say the city’s aggressive housing demolition program is partially to blame.

The city has razed nearly 13,000 homes since Mike Duggan was elected mayor in 2013. 

MorningSide: A Detroit Neighborhood

Nov 10, 2017
MorningSide
Mercedes Meija / Michigan Radio

Downtown Detroit is in the midst of a resurgence. However, business districts in the neighborhoods are not seeing the same successes. The decline in population and the decline in wealth in many neighborhoods is keeping much of the city in a prolonged economic downturn.

Mike Duggan celebrates winning a second term as Detroit mayor.
Duggan for Detroit / via Twitter

It wasn’t even close.

As expected, Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan coasted to an easy re-election victory Tuesday night, defeating State Sen. Coleman Young II with over 70% of the vote.

Detroit has the highest auto insurance costs in the nation. Depending on the survey, it costs somewhere between seven thousand and ten thousand dollars a year.

Fairy's signature black-and-white "Andre the Giant" face appeared on a water tower in downtown Detroit.
Eugene Kim / Flickr

Detroiters will vote for mayor on Tuesday, and first-term incumbent Mike Duggan is expected win re-election handily.

That’s despite his opponent having one of the best-known names in Detroit political history.

And it’s despite Duggan’s time in office exposing some major rifts in a rapidly-changing city.

Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

Detroit residents will soon vote for mayor, city council, and other offices. What do they want for the future of the city? The MorningSide neighborhood reflects the rest of the city well. So, how well do the priorities of the residents align with the candidates vying to represent them on city council?

Actually, they align surprisingly well. We talked with a dozen residents of MorningSide. One of their top concerns was abandoned houses.

Is Detroit coming back? It depends on the neighborhood.

Oct 17, 2017
Bridge Magazine

Detroit is at an inflection point. Maurice Cox can see it. So can the Rev. Aaron McCarthy, Jr. And their visions reveal much about a city brimming with possibility and problems.

The director of Detroit’s Planning Department, Cox has one of the best views at the Coleman A. Young Municipal Center. His eighth-floor window overlooks a downtown so revitalized that it’s practically unrecognizable from a few years ago.

“A lot of people who have been following Detroit’s recovery for a very long time have convinced me there’s something different about this one,” Cox said.

“People are seeing forward momentum. The streetlights come on at night. The lots are better maintained. Blight is coming down in everyone’s neighborhood. Little shops are popping up. Our downtown is on the upswing.”

Owe taxes? That’s OK. Wayne County will still sell you foreclosed homes.

Oct 12, 2017
Sarah Alvarez / Bridge Magazine

Wayne County doesn’t always enforce a law that forbids tax delinquents from buying properties at its tax foreclosure auctions, contributing to a cycle of speculation that perpetuates blight, a Bridge Magazine investigation has found.

Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

Detroit might not be ready for the wave of baby boomers who are aging. The oldest baby boomers are now 71. The youngest are 53. Right now in Detroit, many seniors rely on informal networks of neighbors, family, or friends.

In Detroit, 41 percent of people over 60 live alone according to a report by Data Driven Detroit based on 2010 Census data.

That’s the case with Ida Brown, 87, who lives in a house in the MorningSide neighborhood of Detroit.

Although she has lived there three years, she really hasn’t gotten to know her neighbors.

Are there two Detroits? A new report says yes, but…

Sep 13, 2017
Detroit skyline
City of Detroit

Turns out, there could be something to perceptions about “two Detroits” after all.

The Urban Institute, a nonprofit Washington D.C. think tank, issued a report Tuesday that concludes tax subsidies in Detroit have disproportionately favored downtown and Midtown.

Those areas received 57 percent of state, federal, and local tax subsidy investments from 2013 to 2015, even though they only contain 46 percent of the city’s 245,000 jobs, the report found.

Inside Nikolai Vitti's early effort to transform Detroit's battered public school image

Sep 13, 2017
Erin Einhorn

Three months after taking on one of the most daunting tasks in American education, Nikolai Vitti was having a fit over pizza — $340,000 worth of pizza.

Vitti, Detroit’s new school superintendent, had just discovered that the district had set aside that eye-popping sum of money last year to pay Domino’s Pizza for what he assumed were hundreds of thousands of slices for parties in schools.

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