Detroit’s surrounding neighborhoods don’t see the same sort of coverage of economic development that Downtown Detroit and Midtown Detroit do. While Downtown and Midtown receive much of the attention and capital of wealthy investors and city government, I and many others believe trying to incorporate Detroit’s neighborhoods into the conversation of economic development is integral to city-wide recovery. This is the point of interest that I took before coming to the city of Detroit and the interest that lead to my placement with a non-profit organization in Southwest Detroit.
The article goes into detail about nine major developments taking place in a “Changing Detroit”. Of the nine developments highlighted, seven are in Midtown or Downtown Detroit and each of these developments are valuable additions to Detroit in terms of economic growth and accessibility.
The last few developments of this article are what strike me. The two developments focus on the neighborhood of Southwest Detroit.
The first focuses on the building of a state-of-the-art healthcare and social services facility, “CHASS” – Community Health and Social Services. “Since 1970, some of the best healthcare accessible to the community of Southwest Detroit was found in a converted car dealership.” Of the people served by CHASS, 96% have incomes at or below 150% poverty and 67% are uninsured. When the new building opened, ironically people came in to ask “is this still for us?”.
The second project focused on the Southwest Detroit Business Association’s efforts to replace the streetlights in the community to increase walkability and safety at night. In 2013, 60% of all Detroit streetlights were nonfunctional, mostly in the surrounding neighborhoods. 2.3 miles of new streetlights would remove the effects of the visible symbol of dysfunction and help people’s ability to work, as most businesses would close earlier so employees could get home before dark.
While much of the highlights of innovational development lie along the M-1 rail in Downtown, surrounding neighborhoods where most people seeking jobs live are so neglected that projects are being carried out now to finally address basic needs.
The article makes subtle hints that to thrive as a city, the surrounding neighborhoods must also flourish and I agree with that notion. While Southwest Detroit is gaining attention (and unfortunately, increased gentrification), most of the resources are still pouring into the development of Midtown and Downtown. I am glad to see the efforts of many non-profits in the area to provide services to residents of Southwest Detroit to try to bridge the inequality gap.