Is Detroit’s population loss bottoming out?

The unprecedented exodus from Detroit in the past decade is slowing down, a sign that efforts to draw new residents is working, the Associated Press reports.

Detroit shocked the nation when the decennial Census showed the city lost 25% of its population, which dropped to 714,000.

It’s unclear what caused the slowdown, but officials in Midtown and downtown are reporting spikes in occupancy rates.

The population loss over the past decade slammed the neighborhoods, where abandoned houses have been accumulating and driving down property values.

Nationwide, the largest cities are growing faster than their surrounding suburbs because of the influx of young people, the AP reported today.

The news comes after Mayor Bing announced plans this week to demolish more than 40,000 abandoned, dilapidated houses that are rotting in the best and worst of neighborhoods in Detroit, attracting crime and rodents and discouraging growth.

The houses are like tombstones lining increasingly vacant streets – the fallout of a decades-old exodus that continues today. The insides are gutted, stripped by thieves of anything valuable. Many are collapsing.

“It’s like a war came through here,” Reggie Arnold, 68, told me outside of his east-side house. “There’s nothing but decay and destruction.”

In a city laying off police and firefighters to avoid bankruptcy, demolishing houses is an expensive endeavor.

But it’s an important one, said Mayor Dave Bing, announcing this week that the city will demolish 1,500 houses over the next three months.

The pledge is part of an ambitious and successful effort to demolish at least 10,000 houses during Bing’s four-year term.

Part of the mayor’s plan to rebuild the city is to encourage young people to move to Detroit, which appears to be paying off.

Apartments in Midtown are tough to find, and some are being converted into for-sale condos.

Steve Neavling

Steve Neavling lives and works in Detroit as an investigative journalist. His stories have uncovered corruption, led to arrests and reforms and prompted FBI investigations.