Detroit files for bankruptcy

2013-07-19 09:01

Detroit – Some Detroit residents voiced skepticism that the former US manufacturing powerhouse would emerge in better shape from its historic bankruptcy filing designed to fix the city's financial crisis.

Hours after learning Detroit filed the largest municipal bankruptcy in US history, residents spoke of the stark realities that come with living in a financially broken city.

“It was like putting a thumb in a dam,” said Jodie Holmes (55) as he leaned against an abandoned restaurant marked with graffiti, waiting for a bus to take him to his temporary job.

“I don’t know if bankruptcy will help us or drop us to our knees,” he added.

Detroit filed Chapter 9 bankruptcy in federal court yesterday. The bankruptcy, if approved by a federal judge, would force Detroit’s thousands of creditors into negotiations with the city’s emergency manager, Kevyn Orr, to resolve an estimated $18.5 billion in debt that has crippled Michigan’s largest city.

Detroit was once synonymous with US manufacturing prowess. Its automotive giants switched production to planes, tanks and munitions during World War Two, earning the city the nickname of the “Arsenal of Democracy.”

Now a third of Detroit’s 700 000 residents live in poverty and about a fifth are unemployed.

“Maybe bankruptcy will help. I don’t know,” said lifelong Detroiter Damien Collins (68) outside his east side house surrounded by abandoned homes.

The retired autoworker said he had given up hope anything would bring back Detroit.

“Nothing else has worked, so why not try it?” he asked.

Detroit’s economic struggles have resulted in a deterioration of city life. The murder rate is the highest in nearly 40 years, only a third of its ambulances were in service in the first quarter of 2013 and nearly 78 000 abandoned buildings create “additional public safety problems,” Michigan’s Republican governor, Rick Snyder, wrote in a letter accompanying the filing.

Residents have also had to cope with a breakdown of services. Forty percent of street lights were non-functional in the first three months of this year, while the police took an average of 58 minutes to respond to emergency calls, more than five times the national average. The city government has also been plagued by mismanagement and political corruption.

“Detroit has a lot to offer, but we need a clean sweep of politicians,” said Joanna Maslach (30) a restaurant manager. “There’s still too much corruption here. It’s too dysfunctional.”

Jim Fields (37) who recently moved to a downtown loft from the suburbs, is one who believes the city is poised for a comeback. He is among a growing number of professionals moving to historic buildings converted into loft spaces.

“Bankruptcy hits the reset button,” the software engineer said. “It’s a golden opportunity to make this city right again. I'm very hopeful.”

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
0 comments
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

 
/News

Book flights

Compare, Book, Fly

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.




Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.