In recent years, the narratives around Detroit have been changing. What was once viewed as a scary and impoverished place — especially by white suburbanites — is now increasingly becoming viewed as something new, exciting and as enduring a “renaissance” period. And that has encouraged some groups of people to move to the city and experience all that it has to offer.
“We’ve given a free house to a white woman in the city of Detroit that once belonged to someone else. And that’s what the term gentrification is about.” — Anne Elizabeth Moore, author of “Gentrifier: A Memoir”
Writer and artist Anne Elizabeth Moore got that chance when she was awarded a “free” home from a nonprofit fellowship for writers. She quickly realized that the house was, in fact, not free — and began to think more critically about what her presence in Detroit’s Banglatown neighborhood meant for the community.
Listen: Author Anne Elizabeth Moore talks about her new book “Gentrifier: A Memoir.”
“I really came to love, street level, the kinds of things that were going down in that particular neighborhood in Detroit,” says Moore. But she says her experience with the organization Write A House, which gave her the house and fellowship opportunity, quickly became more complicated.
“It was very sad and very frustrating to see an organization make promises about supporting artists and supporting the city that it wasn’t able to keep within months,” she says.
Moore says her feelings about the word “gentrifier” are also complex and layered. But she says learning about the history of her own house gave her serious reservations about her situation. Moore found out that the previous owner lost the house due to to Detroit’s foreclosure crisis.
“We’ve given a free house to a white woman in the city of Detroit that once belonged to someone else. And that’s what the term gentrification is about,” she says.