Sunday, July 10, 2005

On the Rebound?

A Sunday New York Times article addresses the soap opera that is Detroit politics. The unfortunate title is "In Troubled Detroit, Mayor's Race is a Referendum on Style." If that's the case, Detroit can expect four more years of hard times.

I was going to note that the federal Housing and Urban Development agency took over the city's public housing authority because it was so inept, but the article beat me to it. At a late winter event in the MUP equity planning series, two of the speakers, from the Detroit Local Initiative Support Corporation (LISC) and MOSES (a coalition of religious groups), lamented that the city was sitting on 50 million dollars of housing aid and HUD was threatening to take it back. It's really striking, the kinds of resources that Detroit (both city and metro area) has, but that are not being sensibly deployed.

I remember sitting at my job at 7-11 as an undergrad in Kalamazoo reading the Free Press when the 2000 census info came out and Detroit had dropped below a million (they had lobbied Congress and the Census Bureau to use sampling because it would account for transients and would probably keep the number above 1 million). I thought then, "God, I would love to move to Detroit and help it make a comeback." On Murph's blog last summer (in the comments) there was the idea of a bunch of Michigan people moving to Detroit and setting up a "colony," helping develop one neighborhood at a time. The Times article notes investment in several areas, which is encouraging, to be sure, and was also noted in the Detroit News back in April.

Two other notes, one of urban import, one personal. An entry at DailyKos discusses sort of a Richard Florida-education investment issue related to manufacturing. Auto companies are starting to look for better educated locales for North American plants because savings on labor are negated by increased training costs. Also, I'm seriously considering applying to the MUP program for a dual degree. I THINK I could do it with only one extra semester of courses if I played my cards right and took summer courses. At one point, my interest in planning was only historical study, as I didn't think it would be very creative. It turns out, I was wrong. Developing.

UPDATE: NYTimes columnist Paul Krugman makes the same argument about government, education, healthcare, and jobs. Check it out.


Blogger Brandon said...

You'd be a natural for the MUP... lotsa other dual-degree (even Phd) peeps in our program.

10:41 AM  
Blogger accidentalactivist said...

I think I would love the program; the only issue for me is if I can efficiently combine it with my PhD. I think I can (I may even be able to do it in two years plus summers), but I've got to run a proposed schedule by the higher-ups.

2:11 PM  
Anonymous Heidi said...

I liked the article about how Detroit was like Hollywood. the gist was that films = cars. in the economic sense. Did you catch that one?

12:29 AM  
Anonymous Murph said...

As long as you're in the area, you might try to hook up with Baltimore's "Buy-a-block" kids:

They're half my inspiration in thinking of trying to colonize wiped-out and forgotten sections of Detroit; the Free State Project is the other half. At the moment, though, I'm being a little more pessimistic and thinking that places like Ypsi and Hamtramck would be more feasible places to make a difference.

9:24 AM  
Blogger accidentalactivist said...

A guy in Benton Harbor named Brad Bigford is doing basically the same thing. He buys bungalows for 15-20k and fixes them up. This guy is an artistic genius, and the renovated interiors (he leaves the exteriors crappy-to-modest) are the most gorgeous buildings I've ever been in. Brad

One big problem with Detroit is that it's SO big. Anywhere you live, you'll have to drive miles to get to where you want to go.

11:38 AM  

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