muckraker report

What bankers will see on bus tour of troubled Brightmoor

Brightmoor_0522-2About 25 bankers are expected to board a bus in downtown Detroit on Wednesday and take a tour of one of Detroit’s most impoverished communities – Brightmoor.

As they glide past overgrown lots, broken fire hydrants, crumbling homes and litter-strewn lawns, Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr plans to point out the devastating impact of job and population loss. The city, he plans to argue, can’t provide even basic services to many of its 700,000 residents.

Driving through Brightmoor, it’s hard to imagine that the slice of four square miles of northwest Detroit was a thriving working-class neighborhood, attracting thousands of immigrants, Southerners and Appalachian workers in the 1920s. Brightmoor, or “Blightmoor,” as it’s sometimes called – was in such demand in the early ’20s that new arrivals erected tents in their new lots and waited for their modest homes to be built.

Brightmoor mapBut crime, poor housing stock and rising insurance rates have spurred a decades-long exodus. From 1990 to 2010, the population dropped by 50%, to 12,800.

Despite the declines, Brighmoor is showing signs of progress. Nonprofits, such as the Skillman Foundation, are helping transform the area with urban gardens, murals and well-groomed parks for children.

Click on a photo below to view the gallery of Brightmoor.

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.