Detroit is edging dangerously close to bankruptcy, and the most obvious sign of its dramatic financial downfall lies in the ramshackle, abandoned homes that dot its neighborhoods. Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder declared last week that Detroit is in a “financial emergency,” and he said that he would appoint a fiscal manager to oversee the city’s finances by March 12 if local officials can’t get it under control. Experts warn that Detroit could become the largest municipal bankruptcy in U.S. history.
There are signs everywhere of just how far the city — which is more than $14 billion in the hole — has fallen from grace. Photographer Kevin Bauman has more than enough proof of Detroit’s spiraling financial crisis: He has 100 pictures. Bauman’s “100 Abandoned Houses” project documents the continued degradation of abandoned homes in the city. He began snapping abandoned homes more than 10 years ago, he said, as the flight from Detroit grew. The city was once the fifth-largest in the country but has since lost more than half its population.
Bauman’s project is one of the best illustrations of the continued bad news coming out of Detroit. Its sad and rundown homes speak to Detroit’s recent ranking as the most miserable city in America. It’s here where home values have fallen so low that, in some cases, demolishing them costs more than they are worth. It’s no wonder Bauman found so many abandoned homes to photograph: Detroit recently surpassed even hurricane-ravaged New Orleans as the most blighted city in the U.S. But, according to Bauman, Detroit’s problems reach further than the eye can see.
“The problems are much more complex than the armchair analysts — commenting incessantly on every article about Detroit — would have you believe,” Bauman said. “Detroit rose and fell with manufacturing — in particular, the automotive industry. It provided jobs, and a good living for many for decades. The city, and the region, was not able to adapt to changes in the global economy.” Click through the gallery below to see some of Bauman’s haunting images of abandoned homes in Detroit, and visit his website for the project to see more.
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