Along with the rest of the country suffering from the mortgage crisis, Detroit has seen more than its fair share of foreclosures. Coupled with a failing American auto industry, the Motor City has been hit hard by the current recession. The national rate for home foreclosures is one in 300, yet Detroit has the highest home foreclosure rate in the country. Since 2000, Detroit has lost over 150,000 jobs to downsizing in the auto parts and auto industry. Michigan also has the highest percentage of subprime mortgages in the US, and the state suffers from the highest unemployment rate in the union.
So how much does a foreclosed home in Detroit cost? Two weeks ago, you could buy a home for $1 in the city. Today the lowest price I could find was $40.
That’s right, you can buy a bank owned home in Detroit for only $40.
Of course, homes for these low prices may have fire damage or boarded up windows, but it is still a house sitting on a lot.
Another shocking statistic from Detroit is that the average price of a home is almost equitable to a year’s worth of auto insurance. According to the Macomb Daily:
Because the neighborhoods and housing stock in the city have deteriorated so dramatically, the median sale price for a foreclosed home in Detroit has dipped to $7,750. At the same time, auto theft, insurance fraud and vehicle burglaries are so rampant that the average car insurance policy carries a price tag of $5,072.
The city’s morale has dipped so low that only 14 percent of voters turned out for the big mayoral election in February, and two-thirds of children drop out of high school. What could we do to boost moral in Detroit? We could buy up foreclosed homes and lots and turn them into green urban spaces.
By turning foreclosed homes into nature preserves and parks, Detroit could undergo a green urban renewal that would mitigate environmental damage the auto industry has done and improve the health of its citizens. Recent studies have also shown how inner city children that grow up in neighborhoods full of green spaces grow up healthier and happier:
This study’s findings align with previous research linking exposure to green landscapes with health improvements. Among adults, greenness is associated with less stress and lower [body mass index], improved self-reported health and shorter post-operative recovery periods. Among children and youth, the positive health effects of green landscapes include improved cognitive functioning and reduced attention deficit hyperactivity disorder symptoms.
Another study has shown that crime rates go up in cities when the landscape is barren of nature.
Turning foreclosed homes into parks, wildlife sanctuaries, and urban gardens could be just what the Motor City needs to revitalize itself. Considering the price of these foreclosed homes, it would be affordable for any grassroots organization to undertake. I volunteer to buy a home and donate to any group willing to take on this challenge.