So here’s one idea. Tie together college debt reduction and housing in a way that’s potentially liberating to individuals and beneficial to the recovery of distressed communities at the same time to a create a virtuous cycle like the one I accidentally stepped into in Washington.
Cities like Detroit, Cleveland, and Gary, Indiana, need people. Young people, college-educated people, people with an entrepreneurial spirit who might be willing to put down roots and pay local taxes and taken on renovation projects and bring new views and businesses and opportunities to distressed, underpopulated communities.
Garance Franke-Ruta uses her experience as a first-time homebuyer in D.C. in 2000—a time when the city was underpopulated and was enticing young people to buy houses with a homebuyer tax credit to help shore up its tax base—to put forward the idea that encouraging recent graduates to move to distressed cities like Detroit in exchange for a reduction in their student debt would not only be good for young people burdened by debt, but for distressed communities as well.
Photo: Dig Downtown Detroit