Repurposing a City
I saw a very interesting article last week about a Detroit man who is willing to trade his home for an iPhone 6 or 32gb iPad. I completely laughed this one-off as ludicrous initially. But when I really looked at his situation I felt sadness for the blight that is now the Detroit housing market, followed by a sense of opportunity for what could be. Do a web search for Detroit housing and you will probably end up sharing the sentiment I have towards the place if you don’t already.
The owner of this house bought the home in 2010 for $41,000. A steal for a 3 bedroom, 1.5 bath, 2400 sq ft home most anywhere. Except in Detroit, where the auto-industry collapse, parts manufacturer disappearances, and general municipal mismanagement, have left the city a shell of the once bustling metropolis that it once was. Now, the owner possesses a house that has more due on it in back taxes, $6,000, then it can sell for.
I live in Silicon Valley, where we face the exact opposite problems as Detroit. Here, a prospective buyer can’t truck in enough money to try to buy a home. When comparing the situation here in California to that in Detroit, and the rest of the world for that matter; I am left thinking many to American immigrants would be willing to part with almost anything for a home and a shot at the American Dream.
I am not talking about urban gentrification led by twenty-something hipsters on fixie bikes. I am talking about challenging ourselves to serve the under privileged and disenfranchised by getting them off the streets or out of the challenging housing game of most large cities. The struggles of the financially challenged is a national problem and not just a state by state one. The immigration battles are also a national one.
I think we have a prime opportunity to come together as a country and help solve both. With the resurgence of American manufacturing companies like Flint & Tinder along with Apple bringing some of the device manufacturing back to the states, there is a major opportunity here. I believe the city of Detroit should help ease the transfer of these homes to under served populations and incentivize companies to bring manufacturing to a city with a fresh and ample workforce. The federal government could help the disgruntled home owners with parting with their properties by offering multi-year tax rebates for the trade.
In plain words, I am saying lets bring industry back to a city that needs it and give the struggling a chance at taking those jobs, owning homes and building something.I know this solution is overly simplified, but it is a start. I believe getting people situated, acclimated and productive is better than letting a whole city potentially go to rot. Complex circumstances demand creativity and sometimes crazy thinking to really enact change. I am sure someone more highly educated and experienced could vastly improve on my suggestion and I hope they will and that we can move on from the days of smartphones for houses.