How Would a National Recession Affect Detroit?

October 14, 2019

Curbed Detroit

Aaron Mondry

Many economists believe a national economic recession is on the horizon. A number of indicators, like the inversion of the yield curve and shaky stock market, point to a downturn of some sort in the near future. Not to mention that economic health is cyclical and the United States is undergoing the longest period of growth in the country’s history.

Given the likelihood, it’s worth asking how a recession would affect the local economy. Are Detroit’s fundamentals different enough from other cities that it would be hit harder by one or able to weather it better?

Detroit’s poverty rate still hovers around 35 percent and the population has plateaued—a modest improvement after decades of loss.

These numbers concern Mark Skidmore, a professor in the Department of Economics at Michigan State University.

Detroit’s housing prices may have stabilized after bottoming out during the mortgage and tax foreclosure crises. But because population isn’t increasing alongside housing prices, Skidmore says, “There shouldn’t be much more demand for housing. That’s as a whole; there might be pockets where demand is pretty high. But there are huge areas where it’s not.”

On the other hand, banks have been relatively tight despite the steady increase in home mortgages. That might not be great for homeownership now, but means there’s little chance of another subprime mortgage crisis.

“The credit available for housing in Detroit has continued to be a challenge and that’s been an impediment to the current recovery,” Sandy Baruah, president and CEO of the Detroit Regional Chamber, says. “People being underwater on mortgages is highly unlikely because lending standards have increased so much and credit has been so careful, particularly in Detroit.

“When comes to housing,” he adds. “We don’t anticipate seeing anything like the Great Recession.”

Read the full article here

Flashpoint 4/21/19: Celebrating two decades on air with a look at show’s most memorable moments

April 19, 2019

Click On Detroit

Devin Scillian 


In 2004, Devin Scillian and Emery King hosted a special primetime edition of Flashpoint on race issues in southeast Michigan.

Recorded during a session at the Mackinac Policy Conference, the original show was full of candid admissions and honest conversation about a variety of ways in which people experience race.

The 2004 show also contained clips from a frank conversation on race during a dinner party hosted by Walbridge CEO John Rakolta.

During the course of the discussion, many participants came to new realizations about their personal experiences regarding race.

Roundtable guests on this week’s Flashpoint continued the conversation, discussing what has changed regarding race over the intervening 15 years, including how race factors into regional challenges like transit and housing.

Watch the episode here

Darren Walker: Detroit’s Core Narrative is About Opportunity

Detroit has several foundations and leaders that are willing to do what needs to get done. Among these influential people and at the center of community development for more than two decades is Darren Walker, president of the Ford Foundation. Walker’s influence spreads from helping to bring the Grand Bargain to fruition and ushering Detroit’s swift exit from bankruptcy, to working with the Rockefeller Foundation to rebuild New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina.

In a moderated discussion with Devin Scillian, anchor for WDIV-TV 4, Walker reflected on the Grand Bargain, his thoughts on the impact of foundations in the current state of democracy in the United States, and expounded on the Ford Foundation’s commitment to continue to invest in Detroit.

Key Takeaways:

  • The Grand Bargain was an elegant piece of problem-solving where government and public and private partners did what was needed to get the job done. Citizens, government leaders, business and philanthropic groups and retirees stepped up even if they had something to lose.
  • Recently the Ford Foundation returned to its roots in Detroit, and plans to co-locate its office with the W.K. Kellogg Foundation. Plans include working together with other foundations to tackle issues in Detroit.
  • The Ford Foundation has already committed $15 million a year to Detroit and the first investments will include supporting housing, community development, restoring funding to civic organizations and the issues of blight removal and putting Detroiters back to work, among many more.
  • It is always better when foundations can be in alignment and collaborate. It is impossible to do the type of work foundations do in isolation from a larger ecosystem of philanthropy and social change.
  • A foundation can only be successful if it is willing to be cooperative and will only get things done in partnership.
  • Foundations cannot solve the problems with grantmaking alone. Problems are large and require all the tools in their toolbox.
  • Top down initiatives designed by experts at the top of a social chain do not work.
  • What works is when you do not privilege credential knowledge over authentic lived experience from people on the ground giving their perspective.
  • Never take justice and progress for granted, which is why Walker believes in focusing on the three I’s: institutions, ideas and individuals.
  • In democracy, progress is usually followed by regress and backlash, something that was prominent with racial justice issues following the election of former President Barack Obama.
  • Foreign leaders around the world feel like America no longer has credibility on human rights issues, especially when there is social injustice happening in the country.
  • America has a growing inequality problem.

“At the core of Detroit’s narrative is opportunity and when people don’t feel that there is opportunity they become hopeless,” Walker explained. “Hopelessness will drive a people to do desperate things and they do those things because they’re angry, they feel unheard and overlooked. We have to have hope.”