DETROIT–Detroit Future City, the think tank focused on economic equity and growing Detroit’s Black middle class, has released a report that calls for a reparative investment strategy to reverse the immense loss of Black wealth, culture and community that occurred in the name of urban renewal, including the the destruction of the historic Black Bottom and Paradise Valley neighborhoods just northeast of the downtown area.
DFC is advocating for a major restorative process wherein community voice from Black Detroiters, the people who were impacted by these past harms inflicted by local, state and federal government, are
engaged in deciding how future investments are made to ensure there are reparative outcomes.
“The report calls for creating an investment environment that will result in reparative outcomes,” said Anika Goss, DFC CEO. “The private investment, venture capital, philanthropic funds and other investments that will leverage federal resources from the I-375 project, and that would restore wealth to this community, should be led by and benefit Black Detroiters. This is an opportunity to create wealth now and for future generations of Black Detroiters in Black Bottom and Paradise Valley, where wealth was intentionally extracted.”
DFC makes several recommendations in “A Call for Restorative Investment in Black Bottom Paradise Valley” including:
1. Prioritize those that were displaced by urban renewal and their descendants,
2. Capitalize on opportunities to increase homeownership among Black Detroiters living in the neighborhoods,
3. Leverage programs to strengthen housing stock by supporting home repair for existing residents,
4. Ensure Black developers have the investment and access to be at the forefront of development opportunities,
5. Support the development of a business district focused on Black owned enterprises and the cultivation of Black entrepreneurs, and
6. Implement land use-based climate resilience solutions to build the neighborhood’s resistance to acute shocks caused by climate impact.
“A Call for Reparative Investment in Black Bottom Paradise Valley” provides a history of these two neighborhoods and the government policies that contributed to the loss of the Black community that once existed in them. Black Bottom and Paradise Valley were generally in the neighborhoods now known as Eastern Market, Lafayette Park, Brush Park and Midtown. In the mid 1940s, urban renewal policy allowed Black Bottom and Paradise Valley to be demolished and replaced with the I-375 section of the Chrysler Freeway and Lafayette Park. This forced the residents of the neighborhoods to move to other areas of the city with minimal assistance from the institutions that were displacing them. Detroit was one of several American cities where urban renewal wiped out majority Black neighborhoods.
DFC points to several organizations such as Black Bottom Archives, Detroit People’s Platform, and others that are working to document the multi-generational harm done to Black Detroiters as a result of the destruction of Black Bottom and Paradise Valley and advocating for reparations for Black Detroiters to be part of our investment environment, including the initial I-375 Reconnecting Communities Project.
DFC encourages Detroiters to engage, comment and ask questions about the forthcoming I-375 Reconnecting Communities Project by visiting, https://www.michigan.gov/mdot/projects-studies/special-construction/i-375-reconnecting-communities-project.
To view “A Call for Reparative Investment in Black Bottom Paradise Valley,” visit www.detroitfuturecity.com.
Detroit Future City is organized in three departments – Land Use and Sustainability, Community and Economic Development, and the Center for Equity, Engagement, and Research – with a 17-member staff and 16-member board of directors. It was launched in 2013 to advance the recommendation of the DFC Strategic Framework, a 50-year vision for the City of Detroit. In 2016, Detroit Future City became an independent nonprofit.