Detroit Gentrification Means ‘Forced Relocation’ of Black Seniors

By Paul Kleyman

harvey_turner2014_06-16-2015Many Detroit residents are celebrating a new era of revitalization, as the city’s thriving Midtown is now dotted with upscale shops, restaurants and new construction. But Motor City, blighted with 83,000 abandoned homes, is also seeing the forced relocation of low-income seniors, most of them African American.

“There’s a national trope about Detroit, the idea that it’s empty in a lot of ways,” said Tam E. Perry, a researcher at the Michigan Center for Urban African American Aging Research and assistant professor at Wayne State University, where she heads The Relocation Lab.

Phrases like, “Detroit is on the move” have taken hold, she said, promoting the notion that anything can happen there, that you can start a new business, be an artist–see the city as a “blank slate” just waiting for you to make your mark on it.

“But when you think a community is a blank slate,” she said, “you’re also overlooking very vulnerable populations that have been part of the fabric of Detroit and want to remain part of that fabric. As development is occurring in various parts of the city, senior relocation—or I would say forced relocation–is an unintended consequence.”

Senior Advocates Form Coalition

Detroit, Perry noted, is a city of about 700,000 people, 82.7 percent of them black. More than one in 10 residents (11.5 percent) are 65 or older. As one recent Associated Press story declared, “Whites Moving to Detroit, City That Epitomized White Flight: Residents are taking advantage of cheaper housing.”

Perry said she became so engaged in her research that she joined the Senior Housing Displacement-Preservation Coalition, a community advocacy group that is working to preserve senior housing, and to ease the transition for those who become displaced.

via Detroit Gentrification Means ‘Forced Relocation’ of Black Seniors – New America Media.

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