Two University of Michigan professors conducted research on three Detroit neighborhoods — Grandmont Rosedale, East English Village and MorningSide — and discovered these three neighborhoods were better equipped to survive the mortgage crisis and recession due to the strong emphasis they placed on community development corporation and volunteer efforts.

Between 2005 and 2014, Detroit suffered severely from home foreclosures.

Out of the three neighborhoods Margaret Dewar and Lan Deng, professors of Urban and Regional planning at the Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning, found mortgage foreclosures in working-class MorningSide were more severe, 43 percent from 2005 to 2014, compared to 38 percent in middle-class East English Village and 35 percent in middle-class Grandmont Rosedale.

As a result of the nine-year decline, more than a third of homes in neighborhoods with previously strong housing markets experienced foreclosure.

Dewar and Deng decided to focus their attention on these particular neighborhoods due to their strong reputation in neighborhood housing markets prior to the mortgage crisis, adding they were predominantly owner-occupied, with property values and household income comparable to or higher than the city median, and had largely intact physical environments.

“When we started our research no one had proved that organized middle class residents working hard to prevent their neighborhood’s decline could make a difference against huge numbers of mortgage foreclosures,” Dewar said. “Scholars had shown that low-income residents working together did make changes in their neighborhoods; usually these residents had worked for a long time to counter chronic decline.”

Aside from their long-standing community development corporations, these neighborhood associations organize collective action such as radio patrol for crime prevention and receive external support in the form of foundation grants for grassroots efforts.  

Business senior Ka’Marr Coleman-Byrd lives in North Rosedale Park, which is one of the neighborhood communities within the Grandmont Rosedale Development Corporation.

“My parents and I have been living in North Rosedale Park for many years,” he said. “I have always felt a sense of community ever since I was a young boy. People interacted well with one another and are always open to lending a helping hand.”

Additionally, residents of these three areas use the Detroit Vacant Property Campaign to learn what to do in order to prevent mortgage and tax fraud. They are also making efforts to fix the effects of vacancy and stop further property destruction.

LSA senior Leah Spivey expressed her happiness at seeing different Detroit neighborhoods working to better conditions of their residents.

“Blight is a problem commonly seen throughout the city of Detroit,” she said. “I am happy to see these areas not only striving to improve the conditions for the residents who live within their communities, but for the entire city.”

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