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Black Flight Hits Detroit


Valin
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SB10001424052748704292004575230532248715858.html?mod=WSJ_WSJ_US_News_3
WSJ:

ALEX P. KELLOGG

DETROIT—This shrinking city needs to hang on to people like Johnette Barham: taxpaying, middle-class professionals who invest in local real estate, work and play downtown, and make their home here.

Ms. Barham just left. And she's not coming back.

In seven years as a homeowner in Detroit, she endured more than 10 burglaries and break-ins at her house and a nearby rental property she owned. Still, she defied friends' pleas to leave as she fortified her home with locks, bars, alarms and a dog.

Then, a week before Christmas, someone torched the house and destroyed almost everything she owned.

In March, police arrested a suspect in connection with the case, someone who turned out to be remarkably easy to find. For Ms. Barham, the arrest came one crime too late. "I was constantly being targeted in a way I couldn't predict, in a way that couldn't be controlled by the police," she says. "I couldn't take it anymore."

Ms. Barham's journey from diehard to defector illustrates the precarious state of Detroit today. The city—which has shed roughly 1 million residents since the 1950s—is now losing the African-American professionals who had stayed steadfastly, almost defiantly, loyal.

Through decades of white flight and economic distress, these diehards have sustained the city's cultural institutions and allowed prime neighborhoods such as Indian Village and Palmer Woods to stave off the blight that infects large swaths of Detroit.

Today, frustrated by plummeting property values and high crime, many diehards have hit their breaking point. Their exodus is consigning borderline neighborhoods to full-blown blight and putting prime residential areas at risk. By some estimates, this year's Census will show a population drop of 150,000 people from the 951,000 people who lived within city limits in 2000. That would be roughly double the population loss in the 1990s, when black, middle-class flight began replacing white flight as the prevailing dynamic.

There are other signs the middle class is throwing in the towel. From 1999 to 2008, median household income in Detroit dropped nearly 25% to $28,730, after growing 17% in the 1990s, according to Data Driven Detroit, a nonprofit that analyzes Census data for the city. Over that period, the proportion of owner-occupied homes fell to 39% from 49%, while the proportion of vacant homes nearly tripled to 28%.

"The folks with the wherewithal to leave, the folks with the jobs… those are the people that have the ability to exercise voting with your feet," says David Martin, a professor of public policy at Wayne State University in Detroit.

Further erosion of Detroit's middle-class could cripple a turnaround plan by government and private-sector leaders here. It calls for "right-sizing" the city's government and geography to fit a shrunken population. But it hinges on the city shoring up stable neighborhoods and retaining middle-class taxpayers, while converting blighted areas for such uses as parks or farms.

"All of that is kind of intertwined," says Detroit Mayor Dave Bing, a former pro basketball star and local businessman brought into office last year by an election that pushed out most of the city's old leadership. "The first stage that we want to focus on is to keep those people that are here… and then create the right type of environment that will bring those kinds of people back." Mr. Bing has seen several friends leave town.....(Snip)


Atkinson Street, where Johnette Barham bought her home, was once that buffer. One block north is the southern boundary of Boston-Edison. One block south is Clairmount Street, the flashpoint of the 1967 riots. It is now a run-down boulevard with boarded-up homes and weedy lots.
Built before the Depression, Atkinson was among the few middle-class developments of its time that didn't bar blacks or Jews. Today about a quarter of the 225 homes in this historic district surrounding Ms. Barham's old house are boarded up.

Ms. Barham bought on Atkinson in 2003, when things were different. Born and raised in Detroit, she attended college and worked in Tennessee before returning to her hometown in 1996 to care for her ailing father. He died two years later.
She decided to stay, and worked as a personal assistant to Aretha Franklin before landing a $75,000-a-year post as a pharmaceutical sales rep with Abbot Laboratories. In late 2002, she invested in an $84,000 two-family rental property on Glynn Court, just a block north of Boston-Edison.

The next year, Ms. Barham purchased a 2,950-square-foot, brick Colonial at 1239 Atkinson, for just $74,900. If the rental units were an investment, she says, the house would be "an ongoing labor of love."
At the time, Detroit looked like it was going somewhere, with an ambitious downtown revitalization; new stadiums and casinos; and a budding nightlife. Billions were pumped into development during the 2000s.

Others were putting down their own roots in Detroit. Stephanie Lipscombe, 39, who worked with Ms. Barham in pharmaceutical sales, bought a condo in the city in a high-rise overlooking the Detroit River. "That was a great time to live downtown, when all the black restaurants, the mainstream black restaurants started popping up," she recalls. "It was sort of like a little glimmer of hope for Detroit."
Simon McCune, a businessman who became friends with Ms. Barham before she moved back to Detroit, bought a house in the late 1990s in East English Village, a quaint neighborhood of brick Colonial and Tudor-style houses. In a few years, the 42-year-old said he watched his block slide from a nice place to raise a family to downright unsafe.
Mr. McCune decided to leave the city for the suburbs and finally for Chicago in 2005, when his future wife refused to move to Detroit.

As for Ms. Barham, she soon learned that Atkinson was the kind of neighborhood where residents had to be vigilant. "I used to tell her I'm looking out for her," says Jon McLaughlin, 40, who lived across the street from Ms. Barham. "She'd hurry up to get in the house."
Ms. Barham befriended a local policeman, who would drive by at night to check on her. But he was soon reassigned to another precinct. After that, if Ms. Barham felt unsafe returning home late at night, she would drive to a major road, flag down a squad car and ask for an escort home.

P1-AV583A_LASTS_NS_20100604191501.jpg

As a single woman with a predictable schedule, Ms. Barham was an easy target for theft. There was one at the house even before she moved in, she recalls, in which a contractor she hired lost his tools. "I was just thinking, 'Oh, it's a vacant house, and somebody broke in and stole some tools,'" she recalls. "'That happens sometimes.'"
But the break-ins would become routine. One evening in February 2004, she returned home to find that her back door was busted in, and several rooms had been ransacked. Mr. McCune helped her pay a company to board up the door with plywood.

On July 17, 2005, Ms. Barham returned home around 1:30 in the morning to find her front door busted open and what she thought was a robbery in progress. She rushed back to her car to call 911 and waited there for police.
They arrived at 4:41 a.m., according to their report. Missing items included a $1,200 Dell laptop and a $385 money order. The house was dusted for fingerprints, but Ms. Barham says police never followed up with her.

(Snip)

The relative calm at 1239 Atkinson ended on a snowy Friday in January 2009 when Ms. Barham returned from a trip to the vet with her dog to discover an upstairs rear window broken. Yet another computer and sundry possessions were gone.
Police followed footprints in the snow to a house next door. James Christian, 28, who lived there with his grandmother, had just been released from Wayne County Jail after serving a 90-day sentence for a drug conviction, court records show. He had a reputation as a thief and neighbors had been complaining to police about him for years, says Robert Jeter Sr., whose house across the street had been robbed twice in the previous year and a half.
The grandmother told police that Mr. Christian wasn't home, according to the police report. Police wouldn't question Mr. Christian for a year.

The Detroit Police Department is short about 700 officers, says Warren Evans, appointed police chief in July 2009. The result is he must assign officers to the worst crimes. Homicides have dropped roughly 25% since he took the job.
"The average Detroiter is worrying about home burglaries and auto thefts," not being shot, he says. But homicide numbers were so alarming, "that we decided to take a triage approach."
Petty theft? "I've got nobody to send to that," he said.

(Snip)

Aside from work, Ms. Barham now rarely ventures into Detroit. But she makes sure to be there whenever James Christian is in court.

Police arrested Mr. Christian in March, roughly two weeks after The Wall Street Journal requested records on the Barham cases. They found the 5-foot-6, 220-pound man hiding under the bed in an upstairs bedroom of his grandmother's house. He surrendered without incident, asking only for medication to treat his asthma.
Within hours, police say, Mr. Christian confessed to the two robberies at Mr. Jeter's home and the January 2009 break-in at Ms. Barham's house. He also told police he was one of a handful of people inside Ms. Barham's house when it was set afire. Under an agreement with prosecutors, he pleaded guilty to one count of second-degree home invasion and was to serve 90 days in jail.

But in late May, a judge threw out the plea after Ms. Barham spoke in court. Mr. Christian was arraigned for the arson, a felony, the next day. He heads back to court next week.

Days after the arrest, Ms. Barham was summoned to give a statement at the 10th Precinct station. There, she related for two officers the events that led her from a home on Atkinson to a condo in the suburbs.
"Wow," she recalls one officer saying. "I would've moved out of the city after the second one."
The officer quickly recanted. ""You're brave," he said. "Plus, someone's got to live in the city."
"I looked at him and I said, 'I put my time in,'" Ms. Barham recalls. "And I walked out."
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48 Straight Years of DEMOCRAT Mayors and City Government

 

'nuff said!

 

The Great Society was a set of domestic programs proposed or enacted in the United States on the initiative of President Lyndon B. Johnson. Two main goals of the Great Society social reforms were the elimination of poverty and racial injustice. New major spending programs that addressed education, medical care, urban problems, and transportation were launched during this period. The Great Society in scope and sweep resembled the New Deal domestic agenda of Franklin D. Roosevelt, but differed sharply in types of programs enacted.snip

 

Johnson presented his goals for the Great Society in a speech at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor on May 22, 1964. (46 years ago) Speechwriter Richard N. Goodwin had coined the phrase "the Great Society," and Johnson had used the expression occasionally before the Michigan speech, but had not emphasized it. In this address, which preceded the election-year party conventions, Johnson described his plans to solve impending problems:

 

We are going to assemble the best thought and broadest knowledge from all over the world to find these answers. I intend to establish working groups to prepare a series of conferences and meetings—on the cities, on natural beauty, on the quality of education, and on other emerging challenges. From these studies, we will begin to set our course toward the Great Society.snip

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48 Straight Years of DEMOCRAT Mayors and City Government

 

'nuff said!

 

I am starting to detect a trend.

 

Insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result.

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righteousmomma

This is a tragedy with no hope. So pitiful and so sad I cannot muster up a comment.

 

All I can think is "coming to a city near you".

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48 Straight Years of DEMOCRAT Mayors and City Government

 

'nuff said!

 

I am starting to detect a trend.

 

Insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result.

Valin!

 

You are exactly right.

 

New major spending programs that addressed education, medical care, urban problems, and transportation were launched during this period. The Great Society in scope and sweep resembled the New Deal domestic agenda of Franklin D. Roosevelt, but differed sharply in types of programs enacted.

... and now Round 3 of Failed Programs and Agenda from the current ObamaNation.

 

The Liberals are running the same play again and expecting different results... true insanity, stupidity, paternalism, and a self serving pandering.

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SrWoodchuck

48 Straight Years of DEMOCRAT Mayors and City Government

 

'nuff said!

 

I am starting to detect a trend.

 

Insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result.

 

 

I agree with you all..............

 

 

Heartbreaking cityscape:

 

Heart of America-City in Hell

 

Soon to become like this? [ Note the twin towers & flight of the Presidents escape pod.]

 

 

Kwame is gone for a nickel.......that should be viewed as step # 1.

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48 Straight Years of DEMOCRAT Mayors and City Government

 

'nuff said!

 

I am starting to detect a trend.

 

Insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result.

 

 

I agree with you all..............

 

 

Heartbreaking cityscape:

 

Heart of America-City in Hell

 

Soon to become like this? [ Note the twin towers & flight of the Presidents escape pod.]

 

 

Kwame is gone for a nickel.......that should be viewed as step # 1.

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Valin! Thanks for posting the PJTV video. Sobering is the only word to describe it... especially with the current ObamaNation of a political agenda.

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Detroit was the highest income city in the country in 1950. More than what people were making in NYC, LA, or their new and growing suburbs.

 

Then the riots hit in 1968, over the arrest of a white guy. Mayor Coleman Young, Dem/Commie, told the white businessmen to leave town and that they weren't welcome in "his" town. He got his wish and the city spiraled down quickly.

 

There are so many people, good solid people who love their hometown, who grew up there and would have put a lot of effort into saving and/or restoring the city. Their energy and efforts were turned away. It was once a beautiful city with so much unique Art, Culture, Architecture, Spirit and Pride. It is heartbreaking to see it chew up and spit out people decade after decade.

 

The unions drove the final stake through it's heart. :( The collapse of Detroit, and it's late 20th century diaspora represent everything that is wrong with the thinking in the members of the current administration, imo.

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Then the riots hit in 1968, over the arrest of a white guy.

 

I'm gonna need a source on that. There were riots in 68 in Detroit, but that was over the killing of MLK.

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Do I have the date wrong? 67?

:huh:

I found this blurb in Ask.com. I was thinking of the '67 riots.

Detroit Riots were 1967 and MLK was assassinated in 1968. Mystery solved!

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