Several black Detroiters live in undersized homes after foreclosure crisis, investigation finds

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More than 33,000 homes in Detroit are likely to need major repairs, according to a new study from the University of Michigan.  - STEVE NEAVLING

  • Steve Neavling
  • More than 33,000 homes in Detroit are likely to need major repairs, according to a new study from the University of Michigan.

An increasing number of Detroiters live in substandard homes with moderate to severe maintenance problems, and the rate is highest among black households, according to a new report from the University of Michigan.

The study found that more than 38,000 homes in the city are likely to need major repairs with problems ranging from broken stoves, leaky roofs, electrical problems, crumbling foundations, broken windows, water jams, rodent attacks and non-working toilets. It represents about 13% of Detroit’s occupied homes.

By comparison, about 3.2% of Detroit suburban homes have similar conditions.

In Detroit, black households are three times more likely to live in substandard homes than white households.

The survey includes rents and owner-occupied housing.

People living in substandard homes have an increased risk of health problems. Damp, cold and toxic homes increase e.g. The risk of tuberculosis, recurrent headaches, sore throats, heart and respiratory diseases and lung cancer. Asthma is higher in homes with water leaks, poor ventilation and pest infestations. Poor housing quality can also lead to mental health problems, such as anxiety, depression and social isolation in adults and behavioral health problems in children. For the elderly, living in a cold environment can lead to breathing problems.

Substandard housing is also expensive for the money-based city. Dilapidated houses are often torn down at the expense of taxpayers, property values ​​fall, and public costs of dealing with negative health outcomes rise.

The subprime real crisis of the late 2000s disproportionately affected black residents, who have historically faced unfair housing practices.

“Overall, black Americans have not had the same opportunities to secure housing, have had to pay more for housing, have had fewer housing options and – due to discrimination in both housing and employment – have had less income to earn. housing and make repairs, ”said the researchers. “We pay particular attention to gaps in post-race housing adequacy in this report because the initial and significant support government offered white Americans in their pursuit of safe and stable housing, but denied black Americans, has never been corrected. And while home repair programs are an inadequate tool to repair the damage that has occurred, it is an area where we can act quickly to support home ownership and housing stability for low- and moderate-income black households. ”

The problem is that the study found that there is not nearly enough funding to help people who need repairs in the home. Taxpayers’ and non-profit expenses are insufficient to meet the need, and most funds are available to homeowners, not tenants who are twice as likely to live in a substandard home.

“Reforms of existing programs will not be enough to meet the needs of Detroit residents,” the researchers concluded. “To truly meet the needs of a city facing old homes and low incomes, more resources are needed.”

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