Empowerment Mural Photograph taken by Heather Dougherty

Community Developments

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           Southwest Detroit is the only growing neighborhood of Detroit.  While Detroit’s population is declining, Southwest Detroit’s population has increased by about 8% in a ten-year span(1990-2000). 11  It is also the most diverse community because it encompasses Hispanics, blacks, Arab-Americans, and whites. 

           Latinos of Detroit have made a tremendous impact on community development in recent years. Detroit was once known as a center of community and industrial progress, but that has begun to cease in more recent years. The community developers want to see a change in Detroit to the previous environment where outsiders gazed at Detroit with awe. Some major contributors to this movement have been the Mexicantown Community Development Corporation and the Bagley Housing Association. Both organizations see it necessary to improve the living conditions of current residents and for future generations. They have similar goals of providing better housing opportunities as well as the physical state of Detroit.

            The Mexicantown Community Development Corporation (MCDC) helped initiate the movement when it was formed in 1989. The goals of this program include promoting Mexicantown restaurants, shopping, and cultural districts, starting cultural programs and activities to educate and enrich the lives of the residents in Detroit, improve the physical aspects of the city, create economic self-sufficient neighborhoods, and develop a Mexicantown International Welcome Center. 12 The MCDC is comprised mainly by southwest Detroit residents who are geared at creating a more positive Detroit. The residents understand that Detroit has gone through hard times, so they felt it necessary to change their surroundings. This would benefit all residents of Detroit and surrounding areas through cultural and employment opportunities.  


Mexicantown street view photograph taken by Heather Dougherty

            The MCDC is also responsible for stimulating cultural experiences. For Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead), they celebrate through many activities held in Mexicantown. They offer a walking tour of Mexicantown to experience the area. Also, many special guests were honored who have helped improve the conditions of Mexicantown. 13

            The neighborhood of Southwest Detroit has thousands of new businesses and affordable houses.  Bagley Housing and Southwest Nonprofit Housing provide the new housing projects. The community also houses some of the state's most sophisticated neighborhood commercial revitalization efforts, including the Southwest Detroit Business Association, Mexicantown Community Development Corporation and the Greater Corktown Development Corporation. 14 Along with these projects are the up and coming health agencies and social services that assist the new immigrants and current residents.  CHASS Clinic provides medical care to thousands of Spanish-speaking residents and Southwest Solutions, Latino Family Services, Alternatives for Girls and Detroit Hispanic Development Corporation provide exemplary mental health, counseling, emergency food, education and other social services. 15   From these businesses present in Southwest Detroit, it is evident this community is making progress in a forward direction.

            The Bagley Housing Association (BHA) is a non-profit organization aimed at improving the living conditions of low and moderate income families in Detroit. Other efforts the BHA have made are promoting job creation and attracting institutional improvement. 16 The founders of the BHA collaborated with the Citizen’s District Council, Local Initiatives Support Corporation, and the Detroit Founders Collaborative to create a revitalization plan for the neighborhood. 17 The Board of Directors consists mostly of neighborhood residents. The residents support of the program is important for the development of a rich cultural neighborhood. With their help, the BHA have made a giant impact on the improvement of southwest Detroit. They understand that Detroit needs to regain its prestige of earlier years through its communities.

            Improving the housing situation for many Detroit residents has not been the only focus of the BHA. Another important aspect of the BHA has been to rehabilitate schools and parks as well as the area in general. 18 The Ser Casa High School Academy of Environmental Sciences, previously Ste. Anne’s School House for Charter School, was revamped in 2002. It was not in prime condition when the BHA undertook the property. The outside and inside underwent major changes. Both were extensively cleaned and new desks and chairs were added for the students. Parks were added to ensure that children would have a safe place to play with one another. To improve the parks further, murals have been created by residents of the area as well as college art students to promote cultural fulfillment. Some mural examples can be seen on this webpage: Murals