Motown's blues

Detroit has been shrinking for decades. Even formerly strong neighborhoods are now 'at a tipping point with vacancy,' says a city planner.

Carlos Osorio / AP
A vacant Northwestern Dodge dealership is seen near Detroit, Mich., in December 2008. The roots of Detroit's current plight go back decades. The city's population has shrunk from a peak of 1.8 million in the 1950s to half that now.

Back in May I posted about the exploits of Detroit Mayor David Bing’s right-sizing of the motor city.

Mish has provided a comprehensive update including Bing’s latest plan: “to cutoff city services including road repairs, police patrols, street lights, and garbage collection in 20% of Detroit.”

Detroit city planner Karla Henderson, says, “What we have found is that even some of our stronger neighborhoods are at a tipping point with vacancy. Vacancy adds to blight and blight is a disease that takes over the whole neighborhood. So the sooner we can get those homes occupied, the better for the city.” That’s a tough prospect considering Detroit’s population has been halved since 1950.

By the way, if vacant homes are the problem reportedly America has 19 million of those.

But evidently the trimmed down police department requires new quarters so the city borrowed $100 million and to build a new station. Mayor Bing says, “The financial markets believe in what we’re doing to bring fiscal responsibility back to Detroit.”

The markets? “The city sold so-called Recovery Zone Bonds authorized under the U.S. economic-stimulus plan, borrowing at 4.55 percent,” Bloomberg reports.

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