An Experiment in Urban Homesteading

Detroit finds a way to bring new hope to a devastated downtown

For most Detroit residents, the inferno that swept through a run-down boardinghouse, killing 10 mostly elderly and disabled residents, was one more reminder of how decrepit the city's housing stock has become. Detroit has averaged one new housing start annually for the past 17 years, among the lowest building rates in the nation. But last week, in a counterpoint to the sorrow of the deadliest fire in nearly 50 years, the city also offered a sign of hope. As the choir of gospel singers sang and the mayor beamed, Detroit opened its first new inner-city housing development in 30 years.

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