A Move to Detroit in Exchange for Student Debt Reduction


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

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5 Comments / Post A Comment

Caitlin with a C (#3,578)

Am I misreading, or is this article arguing for the federal government to financially incentivize moving to specific cities?

I can see this as maybe a decent argument if we’re talking “cities with housing excesses and aging populations should entice movers with student loan forgiveness or tax credits” because that would probably accomplish that bringing-people-in goal.

Great, now just relocate the federal government and all the contractors, embassies, and NGOs to Detroit so I can still have a job and it’s a deal.

dc2005b (#4,667)

Niagara Falls, NY is already doing this. $7,000 per year just for living there.

WhyHelloThere (#1,398)

I don’t think I entirely understand what she thinks young people are supposed to do once they get to Detroit. I guess maybe some sort of job where you could 100% telecommute, or a start-up where you didn’t need to be near clients or suppliers or whatever. I can’t imagine that too many people are going to be able to sustain themselves that way.

I have heard the suggestion that artists should move to Detroit, but even that seems a little flawed. Even with low cost of living, artists need day jobs, unless they’re independently wealthy, and I doubt that Detroit has a lot of good day jobs to offer. You’re probably better off moving to Ann Arbor.

Markham (#1,862)

The idea is heavily flawed, the Greater D.C. area was already one of the wealthiest in the country due to the availability of high income jobs. SO enticing people to move into an economically depressed part of the area instead of one of the more affluent ones wasn’t as hard, since those people would have jobs and a way to earn a good living.

Detroit is Detroit because there aren’t any jobs, the whole area is economically depressed, so what exactly are people going to do after they arrive?

Get shot?

Where are these people going to work?

The University of Michigan is 45 minutes from Detroit, Michigan State is about 90 minutes way. Both colleges produce a ton of smart, professional, young people who are moving out of state post graduation.

Detroit needs industries to attract young people and make them staying worthwhile, the reason Gentrification worked in Brooklyn and D.C. was because the areas were already attractive.

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