Detroit Free Press Editorial Board 12:58 a.m. EST December 13, 2015
Spirit of DetroitBuy Photo
Things are changing in Detroit.
And we’re not talking about more streetlights or the pace of blight demolition.
DETROIT FREE PRESS
50 Detroiters: Voices from our city
Detroiters’ attitudes have shifted remarkably in the last two years, a Detroit Free Press poll of residents conducted by EPIC-MRA early this month found, with 60% saying that the city is moving in the right direction. It’s a dramatic turnaround from October 2013, when a survey conducted by the same pollster found that 50% of Detroiters thought the city was on the wrong track; 62% felt that way in 2009, according to a poll conducted then.
The anniversary of Detroit’s exit from its historic municipal bankruptcy passed this week. One year ago, we looked to the future with qualified hope, anticipating for the first time in decades a city with manageable debt, and a little more loose cash to plow into services. Everyone knows, or should know, that the hardest work is still ahead — staying on financial track, rebuilding bare-bone service levels, reinvesting in the people of this great city.
So the attitude shift is cheering news, in a city that has spent too many years struggling to overcome the inertia of its own decline, where problems often seemed so insurmountable that tackling them would be an exercise in futility.
Belief that things are headed in the proper direction is a small step toward; it’s the low-hanging fruit that eluded Detroiters for years while the city was practically orphaned by federal and state governments, while it shrunk and decayed and its residents moved out.
What remains? All the toughh stuff.
DETROIT FREE PRESS
Exclusive Detroit poll: 69% say city headed in right direction
Too many Detroiters live in poverty. The state and national economies have recovered, but the good-paying jobs that would lift residents out of poverty have not, by and large, been part of that recovery. And if more blighted houses are coming down, Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan’s team hasn’t yet caught up to the depth of Detroit’s dereliction problem, much less begun to forestall the primary causes of blight: fires and foreclosures.
Too many Detroiters don’t feel safe. About 46% of respondents said crime is the city’s biggest problem. That’s not surprising. Seven in 10 of those surveyed feel safe in their own neighborhoods. But drive through even the most stable Detroit neighborhoods, and you’ll see citizen-paid security patrols, neighborhood radio patrols, burglar bars on windows and doors and other indicators that citizens must provide their own safety and security.
Too many Detroiters still wonder when help is coming.
About 43% of those polled say they’d move, if they could afford to. That should be of chief concern to Mayor Duggan, who has said population growth will be an indicator of how well he’s doing.
Duggan told Free Press reporter Matthew Dolan that he’s not surprised to see a sense of optimism in these poll results. Everywhere he goes, Duggan said, he feels residents’ support for the changes he’s making.
We’ve come a long way. We have far to go.
Detroit Free Press, December 13, 2015