Dying Detroit Set to Give More Services to Richer Neighborhoods than Poorer Ones
This is one way to deal with a dwindling population and tight budget:
Detroit neighborhoods with more people and a better chance of survival will receive different levels of city services than more blighted areas under a plan unveiled Wednesday that some residents fear may pit them against each other for scarce resources.
Mayor Dave Bing released details from his Detroit Works Project, calling the changes a "short-term intervention" necessary because the city, with limited financial resources, a $155 million budget deficit and a dwindling population, was spread dangerously thin.
"Our focus is going to be on the people in the neighborhoods," Bing said. "We can effect real change and improve neighborhoods."
Bing's plan isn't about shrinking Detroit —the boundaries of the 139-square-mile city aren't receding. The plan also backs away from forcing the redistribution of what's left of the population into areas where people still live and where the houses aren't on the verge of caving in. Many residents had strongly opposed that idea.
"We will not force anybody to move," Bing said. "We want people to move into the areas that are going to grow; where we have the amenities, the density."
The plan doesn't force anyone to move but may well encourage them to do so by attracting residents via better services.
Neighborhoods identified as steady have the highest housing prices in Detroit and homes that are in good condition. Neighborhoods termed transitional have a mix of rental and owner-occupied homes and are in various stages of decline. Distressed neighborhoods have been in long-term decline and have high vacancy rates.
Under Bing's plan, more attention would be paid to demolishing vacant houses, enhancing vacant lots and improving recreation services in distressed neighborhoods. Transitional neighborhoods would get more services in regard to demolitions, boarding up vacant structures, road improvement, and water and sewerage treatments.
Things like tree trimming, attracting businesses, code enforcement and public lighting will get more attention in the city's best neighborhoods.