Detroit’s Downtown Savior, Dan Gilbert, Charged with Responsibility for Foreclosures and Blight

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The Nonprofit Quarterly

The mortgage foreclosure problem was worse in Detroit than in much of the rest of the country. More than two-thirds of mortgages in Detroit, according to The News, were subprime, compared to a little over one-fourth statewide and a little less than one-fourth nationwide. A 2008 report written by this author for the Kirwan Institute for the Study of Race and Ethnicity at Ohio State University documented the “persistent, disparate racial impacts of the subprime lending crisis.” The subprime lending and subsequent foreclosures that swamped Detroit are hard to ignore for their racial implications. The revitalization of Detroit isn’t just a matter of bailing out public pensions and “saving” the Detroit Institute of Arts as the foundation community has done through the “Grand Bargain” or regionalizing the management of Detroit’s water and sewer authority, but recognizing and dealing with the racial roots of the city’s problems and the reparations of sorts that the institutional perpetrators, through their omissions or co-missions, should be making.

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