Mayor Duggan’s recent speech lauded a supposed flip in Detroit homeownership rates back to a majority homeownership city. While that sounds great, there are two big questions Duggan avoids: 1) the unreliability of ACS data, and 2) who are Detroit’s newest homeowners?
- Duggan referred to a data release by the US Census Bureau for 2022. In the years between the 10-year census report, the Census Bureau releases the American Community Survey (ACS). For several reasons, the ACS is less reliable than the 10-year report. First, the ACS only surveys a sample population of a given area rather than every single household as in the 10-year report. To make up for this, the Census Bureau combines years to average data. Second, the regular census collection process was negatively impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. The Bureau wasn’t able to reach all households and those most negatively impacted by the pandemic- Black, brown, and low-income households- had the highest rates of nonresponsive. Finally, the City of Detroit challenged the Census upon which the new release is based. In a court filing in April 2022, the City alleged that as much as 8% of the City’s population was undercounted in the most recent census.
- In his 15 minute speech, Duggan failed to speak at all to the racial disparity in Detroit’s housing comeback story, an astonishing oversight in the nation’s largest majority Black city. Several recent studies show the stark racial differences in Detroit homeownership rates. Despite the fact that Black mortgage approvals overall increased in recent years, white applicants were half as likely as Black applicants to be denied- across income levels. Furthermore, in a city that is roughly 78% Black, white borrowers received nearly half of all mortgage loans. Homeownership rates may be increasing, but for whom?
- Over the years, activist have advocated against many of Mayor Duggan’s policies actively contributing to the mass displacement of Black Detroiters. Over the course of his three terms, mass water shutoffs in the city received resounding international condemnation, the city spent nearly $1 billion on demolitions instead of investing in housing at rates that Detroiters could afford, and pushed a re-industrialization campaign that involved placing heavy industry in Detroiters’ backyards.