chapter  4
9 Pages

Lessons from a declining city: Flint, Michigan after 40 years of population loss

Flint has changed dramatically as its population has fallen. In some places of the city, the rapid departure of people has resulted in a new pastoral landscape where houses were once packed tightly together. In others, the derelict structures that once housed people now serve as a deterrent to investment and a haven for criminals. In each neighborhood, a certain percentage (often large) of the population has no place else to go. Together, the desperately poor huddle together and are stuck in an economic ghetto. In some parts of Flint, the ghetto is not just economic but also racial. The discrimination in employment and housing that laid the foundation for the urban crises of the 1980s and 1990s continues today to haunt vast stretches of Flint. Socio-economic and racial considerations aside, the Flint landscape has changed dramatically. The following is a summary sketch of the ways that residential land use changed in three of Flint’s neighborhoods as each faced significant population loss over the last three decades.