Black Homeowners Have Saved Detroit’s Failing Economic State, Here’s How

The economic status of the city of Detroit is turning around thanks to Black homeowners.

In 2022, the city saw more homeowners than renters for the first time in 10 years, and data from Detroit Future City shows that’s because Black potential homebuyers are making those purchases happen. The report shows an 188% increase in mortgage applications between 2012 and 2021—an increase from less than 4,000 to more than 10,000. Analysts say the application increase reflects neighborhood investments and homebuyer initiatives following the City of Detroit’s 2013 bankruptcy.

Certain parts of the city have seen more new neighbors than others. Communities adjacent to the city, like Warren and Eastpointe, saw a growth of 200% in home purchase loan applications from potential Black homebuyers between those years. Other towns further away, such as Romulus and Clinton Township, are included on the list of new go-to towns for new homeowners. Some of the homeowners were born and raised in the Motor City.

Natives like Jelani Bayi stayed true to their home base after getting both his bachelor’s and master’s degrees. “I love my city. I love living in Detroit. I love the culture, and I love how Black my city is,” Bayi told Bridge Detroit. “I love how we’re improving and enhancing.” After experiencing the drastic rent increase in downtown Detroit and the Southfield community, Bayi decided to purchase a home. He looked for a spacious, well-maintained property in a safe neighborhood with access to quality grocery stores, schools, and services.

His realtor, Brittany Gardner of EXP Realty, says it was easy to find her client the perfect home—a four-bedroom, two-and-a-half-bath home for $275,000—now that things are on the come-up around the city. The partnerships formed to create incentive programs and long-term investments helped to bring Detroit’s Black middle-class back to the surface. “It’s the opportunity of equity, the opportunity of space, and the development of Detroit as well as the new conditions that they have for lending,” Gardener said.