News and analysis from The Center for Michigan • http://thecenterformichigan.net
©2015 Bridge Michigan. All Rights Reserved. • Join us online at http://bridgemi.com

Original article URL: http://bridgemi.com/2013/04/detroits-problems-echoed-in-a-far-smaller-flint/

Economy & competitive position

Detroit’s problems echoed in a (far) smaller Flint

The website is not the type of brand identity any city would seek.

Called “Abandoned Flint,” it posts photos of ruined homes and businesses and a running commentary that reads like a post-modern apocalypse.

Under photos of “Abandoned Travelodge,” it notes: “… people have totally trashed and looted it. Every single window was shattered. And of course it’s Flint … homeless people had definitely been living there when it was warmer outside.”

BILLIONS MORE LOST, BUT PROPERTY VALUE DROP SLOWING

Cold, hard statistics describe a different fact to the same story.

Assessed value for all property in Flint plummeted from $1.97 billion in 2007 to $969 million in 2012. Residential property fell by 57 percent, commercial by 15 percent and industrial by 56 percent.

For Genesee County, total assessed property value tumbled by 35 percent from 2007 to 2012, with residential property falling by 40 percent, industrial by 43 percent and commercial by 22 percent.

In Flint, those numbers reflect a community that lost nearly half its population in 40 years, from 193,317 in 1970 to 102,434 in 2010.

Those who flee leave behind a city of scarred neighborhoods, crumbling properties and government in perpetual financial crisis.

WHAT’S PROPERTY WORTH IN YOUR HOMETOWN?

Like a junior version of Detroit, Flint now looks to radical surgery to save itself.

In the past several years, some 1,100 abandoned houses have been razed in Flint and another 300 outside the city. That leaves at least 5,000 more in the city alone.

Douglas Weiland, executive director of the Genesee County Land Bank, considers robust demolition an important element in restoring a city hardly recognizable from its prosperous 1960s self. The nonprofit organization owns about 15 percent of the parcels in Flint.

“In order to retain residents, we have to make a quality of life better than it is. We need to retain the residents we have.”

But he concedes there are only enough funds to tear down less than a tenth of the abandoned homes scattered across the city. And Weiland is nothing if not realistic about how long it could take to resuscitate this city. It remains under the control of an emergency financial manager, with a budget deficit that climbed to $19 million in 2012.

“I think we have a 50- to 100-year problem. The estimates that I’ve heard in studying Flint say that in order to be stable, we need a population of 140,000.”

He noted that automotive jobs drove the city’s growth, just as their exodus killed it.

In 1900, it had a population of about 13,000. General Motors incorporated in 1908. By 1910, it was about 39,000. By 1920, it was 92,000 and by 1930, more than 156,000.

The Flint area employed about 80,000 General Motors workers in the mid-1970s. It employs about 6,000 today.

Weiland hesitates to predict when property revenues might begin rising.

“There is no end in sight for when that will bottom out,” he said.

Flint Mayor Dayne Walling counsels patience.

“As we get closer to 2020, we should see property values increasing,” he said.

Ted Roelofs worked for the Grand Rapids Press for 30 years, where he covered everything from politics to social services to military affairs. He has earned numerous awards, including for work in Albania during the 1999 Kosovo refugee crisis.

2 comments from Bridge readers.Add mine!

  1. Rick Neumann

    Maybe the community should consider an urban homesteading program that gives a free house to anyone willing to commit to certain stipulations about repair, maintenance, occupancy, and length of ownership before selling. All neighborhoods would be evaluated based on proximity to transit, neighborhood commercial, parks, density of remaining houses, historical and architectural significance, etc. The neighborhoods with the most potential to be rejuvenated would be retained, while others would be let go, and demolition proceed.

    1. dale westrick

      I think rick has a good idea Should anyone of decision making ability listen. With good leadership and ability to provide direction to people and see the potential for ricks idea. A wait and see attitude will not work it is going to take leadership and commitment to improve the city. I attended a conference last month and a lady spoke about a project that is going on in flint right now. The name of the project is edible flint.org it is about providing healthy food for the resident of flint.
      Doing something is better than doing nothing.
      Concerned resident of Michigan.
      Dale Westrick
      Inventive solutions

Leave your comment...

Your email address will not be published.

Currently on Bridge

Will we be better off if Proposal 1 passes? Former treasurer says yes

An Earth Day pitch: When you hang up the phone for good, toss it the right way

Michigan’s roads affect everyone, so a 'yes' vote on Proposal 1 makes sense

‘Diplomacy Begins Here’ conference aims to illuminate international relations

What NOT to post on Facebook: Jokes about prison rape, when you’re in charge of preventing prison rape

A program to give young offenders a second chance is sending many to prison

Similar accounts in suit over alleged teen prison rapes pose challenge to state's defense

‘New fish’ ‒ One teen inmate’s account of alleged sexual assault

Early learning summit in June could impact Michigan’s children

Money Smart Week: Be penny wise, and pound savvier

Plan B or no Plan B, here’s what happens if road proposal fails

The political tale behind the selling of Proposal 1

A Bridge primer: Untangling the pothole promise of Proposal 1

Who supports, and opposes, Proposal 1

Let's rebuild Michigan through its greatest asset: its water

Could a public boarding school model work in Detroit?

Coalition supporting Detroit schools a step in the city’s road back

Chasing fads? Today’s schools are struggling too much for that

For one Michigan legislative staffer, an hour or two in the spotlight

A cull is a kill, and it’s an overreaction to deer ‘problem’

Lack of college guidance keeps poor and rural students from applying

Those who can, do – and get their hands ‘dirty’ in the process

For one Detroit mom, a complicated path to employment

Detroit by the numbers – the truth about poverty

Michigan should require dental screening for all children entering kindergarten

Where in the world is the Center for Michigan?

After two years, hard to call ACA anything but a success

Bridge’s Academic State Champs emphasizes all the wrong measurements

A graying population poses challenges for Up North counties

Up North, isolation impedes health care for seniors

Enbridge oil pipes and the Straits of Mackinac: Too risky to ignore

Not bigger government, but better services when Community Health and Human Services merge

Two Michigans gaze across a widening gap

In northern counties, workers and business find each other lacking

Hidden poverty stalks a Pure Michigan setting

Postcard: How a git-’er-done spirit helps one rural school district

Postcard: When elk is for dinner

Postcard: Luxe life at Bay Harbor reflects changing economy

Postcard: A roof and a bed

Invest in non-partisan journalism.

Donate to The Center for Michigan. Find out why.