Current Issues; Flint

Nick Boyd

Current Issues: Flint, Michigan

Flint, Michigan has been through many problems such as the great depression, the strike in 1936, divestment of General Motors, and now you cannot look at newspaper without reading about violence or murder happening within the city. But how did this city become one of the most dangerous cities in the United States? This is an extremely complicated question because cities are not a simple system. However by looking at organizations that have a professional definition of risk factors for crime and violence we can try and find some ways that fit the city of Flint. The CDC, Office of Mental Health, OMH, and National Center for Biotechnology Information, NCBI, list some factors of violence as low education or IQ levels, family history of violence, drug use, and high concentrations of poverty.

Map 1 shows which parts of Genesee County have the most and fewest households. Flint is the very center where the majority of the small shapes meet. It shows the majority of households are not located in or around the city of Flint with the exception of that southwest corner. Even though the map shows all of Genesee County it is important to focus on the areas around the city of Flint.

Map 2 shows the number of families that are in poverty status by social security income and cash public. Almost every shape around Flint is the darkest shade which indicates 224 -488 families are in poverty in those areas. When comparing both maps one and two together you can see most of the darkest shaded areas around Flint match up. The figures are not extremely specific so anywhere between seven and twenty four percent of the families in those regions live in poverty status. Even though the gap in those percentages is high it still leaves many families in the area under the poverty status.

Map 3 shows how many people over the age of 25 gained a high school diploma or the equivalent between 2009 and 2013. In this case the darker shaded regions means that more people have the equivalent of a high school diploma so the lighter shaded regions means the majority of people in those areas do not. Only one region is shaded in the darkest while the others surrounding the city of Flint are lighter.

A map about where drug use in Genesee County occurs is really hard to find but according to the Michigan Drug Control Update over 20,000 cases of marijuana, heroin, cocaine, or other opiates abuse were treated in 2010. In 2009 there were almost 700 meth lab seizure incidents in Michigan. Even though these numbers are for the entire state of Michigan, Genesee County is on the top ten list of high intensity drug trafficking areas in Michigan (Michigan, 2011). All of these numbers show that drug influence around Flint is an actual problem and can also contribute to violence within the city.

These three maps show the majority of the areas surrounding the City of Flint not only have a decent population density, but also have many people in poverty status with low education levels. The Michigan Drug Control Update also shows that the area is prone to drug and substance abuse.  By comparing all three maps and taking into account the update, we can look at the risk factors and deduct that Flint is an area in high risk of violence. We know that violence and crime are a major problem for Flint from the many headlines covering it in the newspapers.

After General Motors pulled out of the city many people lost jobs and had to make do. The city however was built and grew because of General Motors, so when they left people didn’t have any other purpose for a while. Those that could afford to left and those that couldn’t stayed. Everyone that was left in the city and county either had some business or work they were trying to hold onto or couldn’t afford to move to find work somewhere else. General Motors leaving Flint is not the exact reason why Flint is in the shape that it is but it definitely didn’t help out all that much.

According to Jane Jacobs ordinary people make cities safe. There has to be enough people walking around so that there are constant eyes watching what other people are doing. Parts of cities that do not have heavy traffic do not for a reason. There are usually not enough things to draw people in and make them walk the sidewalks, so they become places where violence and crime can exist. This along with the fact that in 2012 Flint only had 122 police officers, also contributes to the violence and crime rates in Flint. As of 2012 the police officer to citizen ratio was one cop for every 830 people, if every police officer was on duty at the same time (Sterbenz, 2013).

So with the density, poverty status, education levels, and drug abuse it is easy to see how Flint is a city in risk of violence. This compared with Jane Jacobs’ theory and the amount of law enforcement in the area, Flint is the perfect case to look at and see how these factors affect violence and crime inside of a city.

 

Works Cited

Executive Office of the President of the United States. Michigan Drug Control Update. Washington D.C., 2011.

Office of the Surgeon General (US). “Chapter 4 — Risk Factors for Youth Violence.” Youth Violence: A Report of the Surgeon General. January 1, 2001. Accessed April 10, 2015. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK44293/.

Sterbenz, Christina, and Erin Fuchs. “How Flint, Michigan Became The Most Dangerous City In America.” Business Insider. June 16, 2013

“Violence Prevention: Risk Factors.” Violence Prevention:; Risk Factors. November 8, 2012. Accessed April 10, 2015. https://www.omh.ny.gov/omhweb/sv/risk.htm.

“Youth Violence: Risk and Protective Factors.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. February 12, 2015. Accessed April 10, 2015. http://www.cdc.gov/violenceprevention/youthviolence/riskprotectivefactors.html.

Maps:
Map 1. ACS_13_5YR_S1901 Flint Mi Households
Map 2. ACS_13_5YR_B17015 People’s Income below poverty
Map 3. ACS_13_5YR_B15003 Education 25 years old

Flint, MI. Maps

ACS_13_5YR_S1901 Flint Mi Households
S
o even though this says Income in the past 12 months I’m pretty sure it is households per district in the county. Flint is in the middle where there are a bunch of smaller sections. You can see most of the middle has fewer people with the exception of the southwest side.

ACS_13_5YR_B17015 People’s Income below poverty
This one shows where people who make below the poverty level live. The majority is around the City of Flint. Combined with the above map you can tell that not only are there less households in Flint but the ones that are there also make less money.

ACS_13_5YR_S1501 Education Attained_Less than high school grad.
This map shows the percentage of people with less than the equivalent of a high school graduation. Although it is spread throughout the county most of the districts around Flint are the deepest color, indicating that 32-63% of the people living their have less than a high school graduate education.

Current Issues Flint Mi.

1. Housing Abandonment.
2. Violence and Crime / Citizen:Police ratio
3. Drugs with Crime
4.Low budget along with City problems such as water.

Sterbenz, Christina, and Erin Fuchs. “How Flint, Michigan Became The Most Dangerous City In America.” Business Insider. June 16, 2013.

http://www.mlive.com/news/flint/

http://michiganradio.org/post/consultant-flints-water-problems-fixable-price

http://michiganradio.org/post/tests-show-contaminant-levels-down-flint-water

http://www.mlive.com/news/flint/index.ssf/2011/04/heroin_use_on_rise_genesee_cou.html

Flint, Michigan Over the Years

Nick Boyd
Professor Patterson
2/25/2015
Flint, Michigan Over the Years

Flint, Michigan was once ranked on the top 50 cities in America and is now ranked in the poorest cities of America. To the common person Flint, Michigan is about as well-known as Zap, North Dakota, but it was once a huge auto producer in the United States. The portion of Flint’s history most interesting is from 1900 until 1990. The city grows in population even during the Great Depression and both World Wars. Then in 1960 the total population falls, thousands of white people flee from Flint while the black population increases exponentially. The reason for the dramatic change in population might be attributed to one company named General Motors.

In 1908 a man named William Durant founded General Motors in Flint Michigan at a time when there were approximately only 8,000 in America (Highsmith, 2014). At the beginning Buick is what GM made but over the years they acquired over 20 companies and made more and more types of cars (Highsmith, 2014). This made the need for workers skyrocket which is seen in the population of Flint from 1900 up until 1930 (Figure 1). Since workers were pouring in and the automobile industry was booming, money was being made left and right which lead to more people seeking jobs and wealth of the booming city.

In the two years the United States fought in the First World War population in Flint did not fall according to census data. This could be explained by the soldiers coming back between 1919 and 1920 however. In the period after the war from 1920 to 1930 the population almost doubles which is expected as it is well known as the roaring 20’s (Figure 1). It is also during this time when the black population grows significantly from around 1,000 to 5,725. Many black people headed north and west in search for jobs and opportunities while getting away from state legal terrorism caused from racism.

Then the Great Depression hit the United States and the rest of the world between 1929 and 1939. White population decreased by 10,000 during this time while the black population actually increased by almost 1,000 (Figure 1). At the end of 1936 a 44 day long strike took place in the city of Flint about the recognition of the United Auto Workers union, UAW, which ended well for the workers. The United States was climbing out of the recession at this point but workers still felt they were treated poorly and did not have a say, not to mention their pay lowered from 40 dollars to about 20 dollars per week (Highsmith, 2014). Even though this strike is one of the biggest events to occur in Flint’s history it is not seen as a major population driver.

World War Two comes blazing around and Flint’s population rises once again. Money is always made during a war and in Flint that money was for tanks and other war machines. Because Flint had outstanding factories to produce cars with, it also along with a few modifications was perfect for producing the machines of war used to win. Even if people were sent out to fight the war the city of Flint still needed workers to mass produce for the war effort so the population steadily rose. Even after the second war the United States was still fighting in the Cold War which meant there was still a need for war products which Flint could provide. This shows the increase in both black and white population inside the city since there was still jobs and money to be made.

Then suddenly throughout the 1960’s General Motors started to divest and deindustrialize from Flint. This triggered major White Flight from Flint in fear of loss of jobs and devalues of their property. However the black population continued to steadily rise and start to level off in the 1980’s (Figure 1). This can be attributed to not being able to afford to move out of the city or even being able to make more than what they used. Also with an abundance of people moving out of the city this means that there is more space that has already became a lot cheaper for people to move into. The 1973 Oil Crisis did not help the movement of white people out of the city. Because the city’s main business was still auto manufacturing, the fear caused by the oil crisis made people want to leave a city that was just automobiles.

During the 1980’s there was a lot of local deindustrialization of the city of Flint. During this time both black and white populations were starting to steady off. By 1990 there were only 2,000 more white than black living in the city (Figure 1). The deindustrialization and devaluing of property combined with few major jobs led to the City of Flint being on the list of most dangerous cities in the United States(Basset, 2006). In 2000 the total population of Flint was approximately 125,000 and only 8,000 were employed by the once great General Motors (Sterbenz, 2013). The rest had very poor paying jobs and more than 38% lived below the poverty line. The city has become a place that nobody wants to live in anymore. Just ten years later the population dropped to around 101,000 people living in the city (Sterbenz, 2013).

If we have learned anything from the city of Flint it is to not base a whole city around one industry. As soon as General Motors started deindustrializing, cutting jobs, and moving production to cheaper countries the city started to fail. Poverty rates rose quickly right along with crime. With no money to fix problems, they only get worse and that’s exactly what happened to Flint.

Figure 1.
Flint black and white pic

Timeplot link: http://timeplot.canwefixthebroken.net/

Bibliography

Sterbenz, Christina, and Erin Fuchs. “How Flint, Michigan Became The Most Dangerous City In America.” Business Insider. June 16, 2013.

Fine, Sidney. Sit-down: The General Motors Strike of 1936-1937. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1969.

Highsmith, Andrew. “Beyond Corporate Abandonment: General Motors and the Politics of Metropolitan Capitalism in Flint, Michigan.” Journal of Urban History 40, no. 1, 31-47, 2014.

Basset, Ellen, John Schweitzer, and Sarah Panken. “Understanding Housing Abandonment and Owner Decision-Making in Flint, Michigan: An Exploratory Analysis.” Lincoln Institute of Land Policy Working Paper. 2006.

Highsmith, Andrew R. Demolition Means Progress: Race, Class, and the Deconstruction of the American Dream in Flint, Michigan. 2009.

 

On a side note wordpress is being incredibly difficult in allowing me to indent each paragraph so sorry for the awkward spacing and no indentions. Here is a link to what the paper was intended to look like Flint Mi Paper.

Sources for Flint, Michigan.

Sterbenz, Christina, and Erin Fuchs. “How Flint, Michigan Became The Most Dangerous City In America.” Business Insider. June 16, 2013. Accessed February 10, 2015.

This article is about how Flint has become a more dangerous city over time and the impacts on a city that has no major industry. I think this article will be good if I include any modern facts inside the paper. Sterbenz is a journalist with a public affairs degree and Fuchs is just a journalist.

 

Fine, Sidney. Sit-down: The General Motors Strike of 1936-1937. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1969.

This book covers the GM strike in Flint which will hopefully give insight on how the strike influenced what happened in Flint. Sidney Fine was a professor of history at The University of Michigan.

 

Highsmith, Andrew. “Beyond Corporate Abandonment: General Motors and the Politics of Metropolitan Capitalism in Flint, Michigan.” Journal of Urban History 40, no. 1, 31-47. Accessed February 11, 2015.

This article is about the effects GM had on Flint by making it the headquarters and then pulling out into different areas. I think this article will be good in writing about the decline in the population of the city and some reasons behind it. Highsmith graduated from the University of Michigan-Ann Arbor with a major in history.

 

Basset, Ellen, John Schweitzer, and Sarah Panken. “Understanding Housing Abandonment and Owner Decision-Making in Flint, Michigan: An Exploratory Analysis.” Lincoln Institute of Land Policy Working Paper.

This paper details the widespread abandonment of the city of Flint. I think this article will help with understanding the reasoning behind the abandonment of the city. The authors are all in Urban and Regional planning with other backgrounds.

 

Highsmith, Andrew R. Demolition Means Progress: Race, Class, and the Deconstruction of the American Dream in Flint, Michigan. 2009.

This book is basically a biography on the city of flint which goes from before the labor strikes all the way up to today. This information is useful for referencing and finding other information on the strike, white flight, and the abandonment seen today. Highsmith is a historian as stated above.

Flint MI.

Flint MI. Race Graph

Flint MI. Foriegn Born GraphThese two graphs show the population every 10 years over different sets of years for Flint, Michigan. The top graph shows the number of white, black, and other races of people living in Flint. The bottom shows the number of native and foreign born in Flint. It is interesting to see how the white population starts to decrease as the black population increases. After 1960 there is a migration of white population out of Flint and in 1990 white and black population almost equal. The total population also decreased which is interesting because you never really think of the cities that do not grow and grow.