?

Log in

No account? Create an account
entries friends calendar profile PenUltimate Productions Website Previous Previous Next Next
Feral Houses - The Wordsmith's Forge — LiveJournal
The Writing & Other Projects of Elizabeth Barrette
ysabetwordsmith
ysabetwordsmith
Feral Houses
See the feral houses of Detroit, Michigan.

I have been to inner-city Detroit.  The term "feral houses" is no joke.  Parts of the land have gone wild and turned to urban jungle that isn't really safe for humans to venture into.  There are shadows moving against the light.  There are things creeping around.  That city has seen waves of immigrants from many countries, and oh yes, everybody's things-that-go-bump-in-the-night have come along for the ride.  And then stuck around and got real friendly with each other in the back alleys over the years.  So when you take what used to be a thriving city and suck most of the people out of it, then leave empty houses and cars and factories and what-all else just lying around ... yeah, things get WEIRD.

Tags:
Current Mood: busy busy

26 comments or Leave a comment
Comments
asakiyume From: asakiyume Date: December 18th, 2010 11:21 pm (UTC) (Link)
Wow--the photos on Sweet Juniper's site are truly amazing.
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: December 19th, 2010 12:01 am (UTC) (Link)

Yes...

I agree, most impressive photos. You could make a calendar out of this, as people have done for abandoned cars.
msstacy13 From: msstacy13 Date: December 18th, 2010 11:37 pm (UTC) (Link)
Those are so creepy and cool in a very "photo op" way.

When people began calling it "Dead Rot" they had no idea how apt a nickname
that would prove to be.
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: December 19th, 2010 12:00 am (UTC) (Link)

Yes...

Detroit also has what is officially called an "urban renewal" plan. In practice, and therefore common parlance, it is "urban removal."

On the bright side, Detroit is also exploring urban agriculture. I've written about this in poetry, and noted the match earlier this year:
http://ysabetwordsmith.livejournal.com/1197011.html
msstacy13 From: msstacy13 Date: December 19th, 2010 12:18 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: Yes...

I'm easily confused, so don't quote me,
but I think I read that Buffalo, NY,
faced with similar problems,
paid people to move from some areas into others,
so that some remained close to full occupancy
while others became completely vacant,
and could then be cleared entirely.
nimitzbrood From: nimitzbrood Date: December 18th, 2010 11:45 pm (UTC) (Link)
I can't help but wonder when there will be some sanity and homes like these will just be given to whoever can keep them up before they reach this level of decay.

We've got a ton of homeless in this country and a ton of people soon to be homeless.

I'm hoping one day that sanity will overcome greed but I won't hold my breath.

Wonderful pictures BTW. :-)
msstacy13 From: msstacy13 Date: December 19th, 2010 12:22 am (UTC) (Link)
Well, obviously, not in Detroit.
But I think some cities have had the foresight
to do that.
Part of the problem is that very few people
able to maintain these homes
want to live in them.
And, as a general rule,
there cannot be more homeowners in a city
than there are jobs.
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: December 19th, 2010 06:35 am (UTC) (Link)

Yes...

Unemployment can easily lead to homelessness. That's a problem, because homelessness makes all other challenges worse or insurmountable. So preventing it is a very efficient way of reducing cost and effort in handling many other problems.
msstacy13 From: msstacy13 Date: December 19th, 2010 07:12 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: Yes...

I could be misinformed, but IIRC,
the majority of these homes were simply abandoned,
not foreclosed. The owners relocated, either to another city,
or to an apartment. And there was no one buying these houses,
and the city did nothing about them,
and there they are.

When industry relocates, or simply dies away,
the most productive workers will probably find work elsewhere,
but they will not take their houses with them.
ford_prefect42 From: ford_prefect42 Date: December 19th, 2010 11:27 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: Yes...

Yes. However, the city or county forecloses on them after 2 or 3 years (depending on where) of nonpayment of taxes. So those properties almost certainly currently belong to the city.
msstacy13 From: msstacy13 Date: December 19th, 2010 11:37 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: Yes...

True.
They could have been used as scatter-site residences
for subsidized housing.
Or dismantled for salvage, and the lots used for something.
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: December 19th, 2010 11:53 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: Yes...

Detroit is a little weird on this. I think their time limit is about 6 months of vacancy, after which a house is supposed to be torn down. (They don't always seem to tear those down, and they don't care why it's vacant.)
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: December 19th, 2010 12:56 am (UTC) (Link)

Yes...

>>I can't help but wonder when there will be some sanity and homes like these will just be given to whoever can keep them up before they reach this level of decay.

We've got a ton of homeless in this country and a ton of people soon to be homeless.<<

It bothers me that America values money and power over people, as demonstrated by the fact that buildings are allowed to fall to ruin while people go homeless.

I think a good solution would be for communities to buy vacant places and put them to use -- some for community centers, some for low-rent or free housing. Another good option would be for the military to buy empty houses and give them away to disabled soldiers. "We're sorry that you lost your legs in the line of duty. Here, have a place to live." Other folks might come up with more ideas to keep from wasting resources and abandoning people.
ford_prefect42 From: ford_prefect42 Date: December 19th, 2010 07:52 am (UTC) (Link)
Many of those homes can be purchased for $1. There simply is no person currently interested in maintaining them.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/business/2010/mar/02/detroit-homes-mortgage-foreclosures-80

"value" is dependent on "to whom and for what purpose", not on any third party opinion. If there are properties for sale for $1 that go to seed due to lack of buyers, then those properties are worthless. Regardless of the replacement cost.

A city with no export industries (industries that involve outside money flowing in) have property values that approach zero eventually. It isn't greed or insanity, just life.

Case in point, why don't *you* go buy a $1 home?
From: rhodielady_47 Date: December 19th, 2010 09:40 am (UTC) (Link)
Ford, sometimes property goes unsold not because it is worthless but because the property is located in such a dangerous part of town that nobody wants to risk their safety working on the house much less live there afterwards.

Many large scale property developers will wait until they can buy several whole city blocks of real estate at a time, then tear it all down and rebuild it as one solid unified neighborhood of apartment buildings, shopping, office buildings, etc.
It may sound drastic but sometimes this is what it takes to turn a blighted area around.
:[
ford_prefect42 From: ford_prefect42 Date: December 19th, 2010 07:21 pm (UTC) (Link)
Location is a major component of value. If a property is located on the moon, or in a war zone then "worthless" is an appropriate descriptor.

Buying blocks and doing "urban renewal" is a good option on those, but it does require a housing marketplace in which new homes are worth more than the cost of construction (and demolition, etcetera). That doesn't seem to be the case in Detroit.
the_s_guy From: the_s_guy Date: December 19th, 2010 09:47 am (UTC) (Link)
It strikes me that if the $1 includes the land, it might be worth buying a lot of places, knocking them all down, and waiting for the land to become worth something again.

I guess it would depend on what the annual upkeep cost (taxes etc) for an empty block of land is.

Perhaps some negotiation on property rates could be made with the city, along the lines of "Let's say a company with no personal liability buys these properties for $1, refuses to pay taxes, and then dissolves before you can sue it. Sure, you can seize the property, but you can't sell it to anyone and you wouldn't be getting any kind of taxes at all on it until it eventually becomes sellable again - which could be decades. Alternatively, I could buy it and pay you $100 a year in taxes until the suburb gets back to 50% occupancy or I build on the lot, whichever comes first."
ideealisme From: ideealisme Date: December 19th, 2010 12:19 am (UTC) (Link)
Wow. Nature is only waiting us for to relax our grip one bit...one little bit...and it surges back. Nature is not "in harmony" with us - it doesn't care about us. It's blind and relentless and powerful. So very powerful.

Oddly enough I was listening to this music while looking at the pictures and the juxtaposition really works: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C5BfirqTqm8&feature=related
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: December 19th, 2010 06:39 am (UTC) (Link)

Yes...

>>Nature is only waiting us for to relax our grip one bit...one little bit...and it surges back. <<

That is so true. A couple of shows -- "Aftermath: Population Zero" and "Life After People" -- look at what would happen to our infrastructure if we disappeared. Examples from Chernobyl and nearby areas are also fascinating:
http://spacecollective.org/A0013237932294/2124/The-world-without-us-Chernobyl
http://io9.com/5368466/the-ruins-of-chernobyl-over-20-years-later/gallery/
fabricdragon From: fabricdragon Date: December 19th, 2010 05:11 am (UTC) (Link)
we have this.. in fact i live near some in Philadelphia...

and YES a lot of the area spirits get..interesting
ford_prefect42 From: ford_prefect42 Date: December 19th, 2010 08:02 am (UTC) (Link)
For the record, that didn't happen in a few years. All of the homes on your link had been vacant for more than 15 years.

I do distressed houses, I have some experience in rehabilitating homes that are as far gone as those in the pictures. It is rarely worthwhile.

There is an air in long abandoned homes that doesn't go away without a disturbingly large effort. I believe in hauntings because I have experienced a few. Whatever they may be.
From: rhodielady_47 Date: December 19th, 2010 09:22 am (UTC) (Link)
Sorry, these places are still fairly tame compared with the feral places I've seen in Mississippi and up in Memphis, TN.
:|
endlessrarities From: endlessrarities Date: December 19th, 2010 05:36 pm (UTC) (Link)
My current workplace is positively oozing with feral vibes! Birds' nests in every building, brambles scraping at your legs when you try to get inside, deer grazing on the blast banks.

It's wonderful - I just wish I could bring you photos and detailed reports...
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: December 19th, 2010 08:18 pm (UTC) (Link)

Ooo...

I would love to see photos of something like that.

*ponder* Actually, there's a stretch of Mattoon -- a town near us -- that has feral aspects. Not nearly as strong as a city, but enough to spike the entropy rate: you can see bricks turning to dust in the walls. Creepy. A few times, we've driven through there while trying to find some place. I should try to note where it's at so I can take pictures.
endlessrarities From: endlessrarities Date: December 19th, 2010 08:29 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: Ooo...

You want feral? Try this...

http://www.secretscotland.org.uk/index.php/Secrets/AABatteryDrumcross

We did a survey of this AA battery last year - before the barns got built.

There's lots and lots of feral brick & concrete stuff here. And you'll probably be able to spot the place where I'm working just now...
endlessrarities From: endlessrarities Date: December 19th, 2010 08:31 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: Ooo...

Incidentally, I feel so sorry for those poor little buildings in Detroit...
26 comments or Leave a comment