How losing the middle class is affecting Detroit
As a real estate agent, Stephen Reynolds has helped people move into the City of Detroit, but recently he has helped even more people move out. Many are leaving because of crime. And, according to Reynolds, “They’re looking at school districts and from an economical standpoint, high insurance, high home insurance”.
A survey done last September for the Detroit News found 40% of Detroiters planned to move within five years. But not everyone can afford to leave.
Reynolds says, ” I do have clients who are stuck but then on the other hand you have working middle class people who do have the opportunity to make that move.”
That means many poor people stay while middle class residents leave — taking precious tax dollars with them.
“Middle class people both black and white have left,” according to UDM professor and former Detroit Police Chief Ike McKinnon. The primary reason, according to McKinnon and the Detroit News survey is crime.”
McKinnon told us, “Probably the greatest problem that we have right now is this increase or the influx of more drugs into the city that’s causing the crime problems we have in the city.”
Reynolds is not only an expert in real estate, he knows more about crime than he would like. He was living with his family in East English Village on the city’s east side when a neighbor called him at work. She said, “‘Steve, do you have anybody doing work in your home?’ I said no. No one is doing work in our home.”
His house was being broken into. It was the third time burglars had attempted to get into the home. This time they succeeded in stealing several valuable items. Earlier his truck had also been taken from his home.
“That was really disturbing to my wife, to myself and we had to think at that time what was the best decision for us.”
The decision was to move to West Bloomfield. The family was happy there for four years.
“But it was missing one thing,” Reynold said, “We’re missing family– that community feel with neighbors.”
He says that sense of community is what the city needs right now, “Everyone together rolling up out sleeves and working to bring the city back.”
So three months ago the Reynolds family moved to the Palmer Woods neighborhood of Detroit. They enjoy the tree-lined streets, the beautiful big houses and the neighbors who invite them for barbeques.
They also see their new home as an investment in the city and their future, ” We looked at the trends with real estate and what was going on. ”
The latest trend shows home values have gone up ten percent in April compared to a year earlier.
Reynolds thinks its a trend that will continue. In fact, he’s banking on it,
“I see a change is going to come. I’m living proof. I’m here.”