Mayor David Bing has as close to unanimous support of this community as any mayor since Coleman Young at the end of his first administration. People in our city and suburbs want to see Detroit work, grow, and flourish. Right now, we are not flourishing. Inaction can disable a city. And yet, the notion of the “Contraction” program or “Downsizing” program, contemplating removal of homes in under populated neighborhoods, has taken a back seat to the other frustrations and instabilities in the city. Money is not the issue for two reasons.
First, the return on an investment of moving individuals from some neighborhoods would be somewhere in the area of 30 percent to 40 percent per annum given the infrastructure maintenance costs required for every square mile of Detroit. Every square mile of the city is underutilized. Police and fire services would be minimized and under populated schools closed. Of greater importance, it is possible that the maintenance of the water and sewer system and other basic infrastructure costs, such as snow removal, trash pickup, and lighting, would be minimized.
A second reason that money is not an issue is because it is apparent that private citizens who have an entrepreneurial and optimistic attitude will help fund the cost of buying owners out.
The problem that has occurred in the last year is that the community meetings have left individuals believing that their neighborhood might be the neighborhood taken, thereby raising the specter of forced removal of individuals living in more densely populated neighborhoods who would never be affected, but maintain the fear.
Action is needed ASAP.