Racial makeup of some (read: one) suburbs being changed by foreclosures

The suburbs are growing increasingly diverse (evidence here, here, here, and here). And this news story shows that foreclosures in the Detroit area may be helping minorities move to suburbia:

The foreclosure crisis made it possible…

Many of the foreclosed upon Southfield [Michigan] homes were going for $40,000 to $60,000. The median home value dropped from more than $190,000 to below $130,000 over the same period, according to Census figures.

With so many empty houses available, rents also dipped by hundreds of dollars. Renters increased from about 13,100 in 2006 to 15,400 in 2009.

The lure of low prices to Detroiters was obvious — as was the likelihood that their arrival would not be without issues.

“Blacks, like all Americans, want good schools and a safe community, and they can find that in the suburbs,” says Richard Schragger, who teaches local government and urban law at the University of Virginia…

Two things irritates me about this story. First, it seems to be based entirely on some anecdotal evidence from Southfield, Michigan. Is what is described in this article taking place in other metropolitan regions? The story provides little insight beyond this one Michigan community.

Second, the headline seems to highlight foreclosures but the real story seems to be about what happens when poorer Blacks move into the suburbs. The article says the result of this may be that more middle- and upper-class Blacks will continue to move to more far-flung suburbs. Should we conclude that foreclosures in certain areas are actually good for some people or do they change communities too much? The original headline, “Foreclosures helping change color of some suburbs,” is more ambivalent but when the AP story gets repeated in other sources, such as the Daily Herald, the headline changes: in the web edition, the headline is “Foreclosures accelerating changes in suburbs,” while the print edition has the headline “Foreclosures changing the suburbs.” The story says little beyond the Detroit area and yet the new headlines suggest foreclosures are leading to these specific changes throughout all (or most) American suburbs.

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