Yet the dire economics of the community generally cut across racial and demographic lines. For many cities, concentrated poverty disproportionately affects African American households first, then Latinos. Flint is a bit of an outlier. While the citys majority black population certainly suffers wide disparities similar to those suffered by blacks in cities nationwide, the south side of Flint is an example of race-neutral poverty. Along Fenton road and in the surrounding neighborhoods, white residents down on their luck face the same economic realities as their black counterparts. Poverty and Race in the rust Belt.
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Flint is not a third world country. But its a place in great need. Between 20, some.5 of Flints residents lived below the poverty line, compared to just.8 of the rest of the state. A quarter of its families have an annual income of below 15,000 a year. The citys child poverty rate.5 is nearly 10 percentage points higher than Detroits. Communities with more than twenty percent concentrated poverty is where you really start to see the effects on people's livelihoods, said Erika poethig, director of Urban Policy Initiatives at the Urban Institute. There is not one community in Flint that is lower than twenty percent. That concentration of poverty is distributed across the city. Flints Racial fault line, compared to many other larger cities, Flint has maintained a sizeable population of poor and working class whites. While the city is majority African American at 56, whites make.4 of the population. Flint, like many other cities in the region, is deeply segregated by race.
Gondola cars carry gravel on a freight train near Duluth,. Population is 86,265 and.1 live below the poverty level. The population loss and economic collapse has compounded other issues, including access to quality education, general healthcare and safety. There are also serious environmental concerns. When industry pulled out of the city, it left behind huge swaths of contaminated land. Aging and decrepit infrastructure, including a deteriorating water system, has meant dangerously high levels of toxins in the citys water supply. Just last month, an internal Environmental Protection Agency memo obtained and released by the aclu of Michigan highlighted growing concerns about high levels of lead contamination, after a local familys tap water tested at levels nearly three times higher than what would be classified. People are frustrated and tired and hungry, said Stevenson, who is now the director of development at the local Catholic Charities.
Crime and despair began to fester. And generations of families barely making it replaced those that had once thrived. Often those families were one and the same. People looked at gm as if it was God and if you the didnt work for gm you didnt have a say. That was power in our community, said Glenn Wilson, president and founder of Communities First Inc., a non-profit affordable housing developer. When you think about it, you could drop out of high school and make 70,000 a year without 100,000 of student debt. You could work for gm for 10 years without a high school diploma and live next door to a doctor. That all went away.
The number was unprecedented, but to those in the city, not a complete surprise. Since 2005, roughly 5,000 homes have been demolished, 10 of city properties. Sources: Genesee county land Bank gis data and New York times and mlive media group news reports. Vacancies includes registered foreclosures with the genesee county land Bank and registered vacant land. In 1965, Flints population was about 200,000. In 2013, for the first time since the 1920s, census figures found the citys population had dipped below 100,000. And the slide hasnt ebbed: The population in 2014 was just about 99,000, down from 99,791 in 2013. Block by block, neighborhoods where gm had built houses for its workers were marked by the detritus of abandonment, crumbling homes and overgrown lots.
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These days, you cant turn a corner without tripping over a hole of what had been. Or strike up a conversation with a stranger who wont recall a mother, father or grandparent who once sweated out a living on the factory floor. The very first buick rolled off the assembly line in Flint in 1904. Today, the massive 235-acre manufacturing complex known as buick city has been razed now a mostly vacant slab of concrete and memories. We had huge numbers of people coming up from the south and everyone was coming to work here, said Mary Stevenson, who grew up about 20 miles south of the city and remembers the smell of fresh roasted peanuts wafting from downtown shops.
When you talk about a big huge disaster that occurred and just knocked down the entire city in one fell swoop, it was the collapse of auto here. As the auto industry waned, so did stability and income for thousands of residents. The shockwaves from GMs steady departure rippled ghostwriters across the city, crippling its tax base as former workers either left proposal town or stayed put, trapped in debt and eventually poverty. Ten years of Fighting Blight and Vacancy in Flint 2005 Registered Land Vacancies in Flint. Previous, next, flint officials announced that nearly 2,000 vacant and blighted houses were demolished between 20part of a war on blight and decay.
In the film, moore boiled down Flints suffering like this: First, close 11 factories in the. S, then open 11 in Mexico where you pay the workers 70 cents an hour. Then, use the money you've saved by building cars in Mexico to take over other companies, preferably high-tech firms and weapons manufacturers. Next, tell the union you're broke and they happily agree to give back a couple billion dollars in wage cuts. You then take that money from the workers, and eliminate their jobs by building more foreign factories.
Roger Smith was a true genius. Detroit, wayne county, mich. Population is 713,777 and.3 live below the poverty level. Unlike its sister city, detroit, an hour away, which was home to the big Three auto companies gm, ford and Chrysler, Flint had only. When the company began to divest from the city, it took with it thousands of good paying jobs, not just within gm but also among the associated suppliers and subcontractors down the line. Long gone are the storied days when almost everyone was somehow connected to gm, as an employee or a relative of one.
For the write last few decades folks have been doing just that, fleeing Flint in droves. The city was once a major hub for auto manufacturing. Its downtown was booming and vibrant, bolstered by strong working and middle-class neighborhoods. In its heyday there were 200,000 residents, and in the 1960s and 1970s, general Motors employed more than 80,000 of them at its Flint facilities. Today, gm employs about 5,000 workers in Flint. The city has never recovered from the loss, and now grapples with widespread poverty and crime. Its consistently ranked among the most violent cities in the country. When gm began closing plants and laying off workers in the 1980s, thousands of residents a year began what would become a decades-long exodus. The tumult brought on by the plant closures was famously captured by director Michael moore in his 1989 documentary, roger me, in which moore chronicled his pursuit of gm ceo roger Smith to confront him about the pain the company had inflicted on the blue-collar.
youthful, albeit muted beauty hidden beneath the years of addiction. Her blue eyes and baby face (and the hello kitty tattoo on her forearm) belie struggle far beyond her years. By the time the 22-year-old hit Fenton road this summer, shed spent nearly a third of her life addicted to heroin, a curse she says was handed down by a boy she once loved. Her addiction has all but destroyed her relationship with her family. She cant find or keep a job. And the emotional and psychological weight of addiction, poverty and regret has pushed her further onto the margins. I wont be in Flint for long, she said wistfully. If you want to do anything with life you have to leave.
A man searching for scrap metal. Flint, genesee county, mich. Population is 102,434 and.5 live below the poverty level. Like many others here, andrea sarazine, known as Brandy in the streets, has found few ways to dates support herself and her habit beyond the often dangerous dance done in the shadows of Fenton road. No jobs going to hire me, she said, gulping from a plastic cup of mountain Dew the size of her head. Were a bunch of drug addicts. You can get drugs on every corner but cant find help to get off.
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This is general part three of msnbcs four-part series, geography of poverty. Read part one this is part three of msnbcs four-part series, geography of poverty. Read part one flint, michigan — every summer a fresh crop of working girls make their way to fenton road, a black eye of a commercial strip that runs through the heart of this citys residential south side. Some are locals born and bred. Others come from nearby towns or from across the state. Any number are addicted to drugs or hard living, bruised by life in a patchwork of post-industrial cities whose golden days are but a memory, if not a myth. They only ever last a summer or two, said a grizzled man in his mid-40s, squatting beneath the awning of a storefront on Fenton road. They come here to get money and end up with their throats slit in the park. A couple of the mans buddies joined him in escaping the afternoon heat, nodding in unison as the neighborhood came alive with folks chatting on sidewalks, kids riding bicycles, and drug addicts and early-shift sex workers streaming together in a tangle of humanity.