The Spark

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.” — Karl Marx

From Warehouse to Million-Dollar Condos

Aug 2, 2021

Looking for affordable housing in Detroit? Well, good luck. Because when it seems things couldn’t get any crazier, then a million dollar condo offer jumps out when you open the Sunday Detroit newspaper. Advertised on a two-full-page spread. A million dollar condo.

This property is known as Willy’s Overland lofts. Well, Willy’s used to be the Willis Warehouse, a Detroit public school building that was a warehouse for school furniture. In a neighborhood that USED TO BE affordable for students from nearby Wayne State University, and city of Detroit residents. Now, what are known as the Midtown, Corktown and New Center districts—luxury properties are being featured, with studio apartments starting at $1,500 a month, going to $4,000 for a 2 bedroom, and condos, like Willy’s, in the half a million to million dollar range.

So what’s wrong with this picture? Everything. In a city where 30% of its residents live below the poverty line; in a city where the median income of individuals is less than $20,000 a year, affordable housing is already a huge problem. When the Big 3 shut down plants and people lost their jobs and their homes, neighborhoods crumbled. When the banks and loan companies offered subprime mortgages as their prime scam, thousands of people lost their homes. And for a number of years now, big developers have been buying up properties all over, and pushing Detroit residents out, whether by doubling and tripling rents, or condemning their homes, while making lucrative deals with the city of Detroit, to build their pet projects with high-end housing nearby.

There’s something drastically wrong with a society where it seems normal to feature million-dollar condos, while working class families are doubling and tripling up in apartments and bedrooms and basements in single family homes. Where more and more homeless are taking up residence under bridges.

Affordable housing should be a right. And this demand needs to be added to the list of things to come together and fight for. Where neighborhoods in which working people can live comfortably and affordably come first. Not glass houses for the rich.