Thanks for this thought-provoking piece. As a Michigander with roots in Flint I often wonder how we can make the difficult choices to put these cities on a sustainable trajectory while at the same time preserving the unique character of the cities and not making things worse for disadvantaged residents who have been there the whole time. This article is a step towards capturing that complex dynamic.
One benefit of having an influx of privileged white would-be gentrifiers is that they tend to be the proverbial “squeaky wheels” which I think would help address the key problem with urban areas in Michigan and beyond: municipal governance.
So I’d conclude by expressing my hope that the “homesteaders” avoid the temptation of indulging in libertarian fantasies of urban recovery by the bootstraps and instead become engaged citizens of their new communities. The problems that face these cities today stemmed in part from economic forces beyond anyone’s control, but the local governments and other actors also played an important role. If these communities are to recover, the local governments and other actors will need to play a similarly important role.