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A Few Myths about Downtown Detroit That Need Debunking

Every once in a while, we get an email that asks some really silly (to us) questions about life in Detroit. This last one made us think, “You know, we should really post something that we can link everyone to in the future as these ridiculous questions come in.” So here we go.

Myth #1: Downtown Detroit isn’t a Safe Place to Life
This is probably the most common myth about Detroit, and honestly, there is a solid basis for the thought — the Metro Detroit area as a whole is actually legitimately dangerous. But there has always been a significant difference between crime in downtown Detroit and the outlying areas. Two differences in fact: one, the crime rate in general is lower downtown. Two, the crime rate downtown is significantly skewed against violent/interpersonal crime — most crimes downtown are property crimes.

Furthermore, as the Detroit Chamber of Commerce pointed out, “The business community continues to support public safety initiatives through the donation of 100 new police cruisers and 23 EMS units. Through additional efforts, such as a neighborhood watch program called Project Lighthouse, the private sector is increasing public safety downtown.” So while downtown Detroit isn’t comparable to, say, San Jose or Austin, it’s definitely not the deathtrap that people make it out to be.

Myth #2: Downtown Detroit is a Post-Apocalyptic Hellhole
Once again, this myth is all about the confusion of downtown Detroit with Metro Detroit — the massive area of territory that is the greater metropolitan area. There are lots of places that are suffering from abandonment in the Metro Detroit area, but very few in downtown. (If you want the evidence, CityLab has highly detailed blight maps you can peruse.) The truth is that downtown Detroit has been massively revitalized thanks to the efforts of a number of groups, most famously Dan Gilbert of Quicken Loans.

And if on the off chance you think that the bankruptcy filing might have interrupted government services, don’t worry: it didn’t. Detroit’s government rearranged a lot of paperwork, but nothing shut down like it did when the Federal government stopped functioning a few years back.

Myth #3: Downtown Detroit isn’t Recovering
Whether you’re talking about recovering from the collapse of the auto industry, the Great Recession, the bankruptcy, or even hearkening back to the race riots of the Civil Rights era (which for some reason a lot of people do), the fact is that downtown Detroit is, in fact, kicking butt right now. While the Metro Detroit area’s average income is about 85% of the national average, the downtown area is a huge 3rd-highest in the nation relative to its cost of living. All that reinvestment and renovation is actually paying off!

Myth #4: Detroit’s Bankruptcy Was Due to Greedy Workers/Unions
We’re not going to get political about this, because no good can come of it — but we do feel the need to point out that Detroit spends more on tax breaks for big corporations than it does for union pensions. The bankruptcy wasn’t a simple cause-and-effect in any direction, but ignoring a huge part of the story because you don’t like the truth is a huge mistake.

Posted on July 29th, 2016 in: Detroit with the tags: ,

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