Third Week In Detroit: Gentry Giants – Detroit Community-Engaged Research Program

Third Week In Detroit: Gentry Giants

I found the excerpts from How to Kill a City incredibly compelling. The book did a good job of contextualizing the current economic moment that Detroit is experiencing. It was especially relevant considering that I currently live in the 7.2 bubble that the book described. I take the Q-line to an office in the center of downtown to work for a non-profit that has Dan Gilbert on its board of directors. The ways in which conglomerates like Rock Finacial and the city of Detroit seem to be working in tandem is deeply unsettling.

The actual process by which many people in Detroit have been forced out of their homes differs from how I previously understood gentrification. Gentrification had always been described to me in terms of rent, with landlords forcing out tenants who couldn’t afford to compete with wealthier potential tenants or a hot housing market. This had been galvanized by my own experiences, as my family was forced to move whenever an informal rent agreement fell through as property values rose and landlords realized they could make more money selling the property. Within this model, owning your home is what would insulate you and you might actually benefit from rising property values. Furthermore, homeownership is often touted as a symbol of the American middle class and lauded as one of the first steps to establishing generational wealth. And yet, this did nothing to protect the people of Detroit as property taxes and bad mortgages spun out of control.

4 thoughts on “Third Week In Detroit: Gentry Giants”

  1. I really like hearing your thoughts on the reading. I started reading the San Francisco section of the book today, and it was talking about families who bought their homes in the 1970s and are now being forced to leave, be it through skyrocketing rents or strange work-arounds by landlords that give people no choice but to leave, so I definitely see what your saying about how not even homeownership can protect people from the impacts of gentrification. It’s disheartening to know that none of these evictions or displacements are isolated events, especially when housing is a determinant for a huge range of health and education factors.

  2. Hey Keegan,
    I totally agree with you on how the gentrification in Detroit went against what I thought to be gentrification to be at first as well. I also appreciate you sharing your own personal experience with how you and your family experienced gentrification in Grand Rapids and it really does emphasize the effects that gentrification has on displacing a population.

  3. Hello,

    I think I also have similar impressions about gentrification prior to the reading but it really is interesting how nuanced the problem is. There are so many different factors, intentionally done by both politicians and gentrifiers for their own self-serving interests. I liked your last point about how while generational wealth is said to be acquired through property ownership but this is being denied of Detroiters, a predominantly black neighborhood. It goes to show how racialized the issue of generational wealth is on top of histories of redlining and being denied mortgages.

  4. I like how you explored the connections between homeownership and gentrification. Detroit is certainly a unique case in which being a homeowner did not isolate people from being pushed out of their homes in favor of gentrifying forces. I think this is particularly concerning because of the way that property taxes were the force used to expel residents from Detroit, but tax abatements are currently being used to court wealthy industries and individuals to move into the city. There is a hypocrisy in that, that I find disturbing.

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