It’s sad that AP had to choose a headline for a story that seems to want to increase racial tensions. There’s a story out this morning titled Foreclosures helping change the color of some suburbs. You might think that minorities are buying foreclosures in white neighborhoods and causing resentment. That’s not where the resentment lies however: [Thanks L!]
SOUTHFIELD, Mich. — Three years ago, Lamar Grace left Detroit for the suburb of Southfield. He got a good deal — a 3,000-square-foot colonial that once was worth $220,000. In foreclosure, he paid $109,000.
The neighbors were not pleased.
“They don’t want to live next door to ghetto folks,” he says.
That his neighbors are black, like Grace, is immaterial. Many in the black middle class moved out of Detroit and settled in the northern suburbs years ago; now, due to foreclosures, it is easy to buy or rent houses on the cheap here. The result has been a new, poorer wave of arrivals from the city, and growing tensions between established residents and the newcomers.
“There’s a way in which they look down on people moving in from Detroit into houses they bought for much lower prices,” says Grace, a 39-year-old telephone company analyst. “I understand you want to keep out the riffraff, but it’s not my fault you paid $250,000 and I paid a buck.”
The article goes on to site how there is resentment over the new neighbors’ “ghetto lifestyle”- bad behavior, increased crime, late hours, etc. As L said of neighborhoods with a high foreclosure rate in Phoenix, This is a big problem that has nothing to do with color. These people [new arrivals] are all colors. They bring their junk with them. Some of them rent, some of them buy. It is a sad fact of life that crime rates are often higher in low income neighborhoods, so it’s not surprising that problems increase as the value of neighborhoods decrease.
One of the bigger problems however, is that buck that Grace was referring to. There’s often a lot of resentment from the neighbors who paid bubble prices. We’ve read reports of folks being threatened for selling their homes for less than they paid for it, and resentment towards neighbors that bought at a discount. It doesn’t matter that the new neighbors are quiet, law-abiding folks with carefully manicured lawns. Everyone loves a bargain, and no one likes being overcharged.
It’s a shame that AP chose a headline that tried to make this be about color. The intimation is that minorities pouring into white ‘burbs is causing a problem, when the tension is in fact an economic one. While their article actually says that the problem they are seeing in Detroit is blacks resenting blacks, many people don’t read past the headlines.
There’s enough tension and difficulty in this situation. We don’t need AP to try and make it be about color.