Highsmith: Flint Crisis a Long Time Coming and Could Have Been Prevented

Andrew Highsmith, professor and author, discusses the decades that led to the Flint water crisis.

Matt Morley


The water crisis in Flint wasn’t an overnight disaster, it was 50 years in the making. That’s according to an expert in California who has been studying Flint and urban decline for many years. And he says the water crisis in Flint could have — and should have — been prevented. Andrew Highsmith is an associate professor of history, with a specialization in race, class and urban issues as well as public policy, at University of California-Irvine, he’s also the author of “Demolition Means Progress: Flint, Michigan and the Fate of the American Metropolis.”


Highsmith joins Detroit Today host Stephen Henderson. Here are a few highlights from their conversation.


Decline: “Over the past three quarters of the century, waves of de-industrialization, depopulation and disinvestment have obliterated flint’s tax base,” causing an inability to repair the city’s infrastructure, says Highsmith.


Policies: Highsmith says, “Policy makers have been slow to respond to this legacy of discrimination,” referring to post-war policies that worked against minorities. “This notion that integration, diversity, are threats to property values continues to shape residential housing markets.”

To hear more of their conversation, click the link above.