One of the many, many things holding Detroit back is the lack of a stable tax base that comes with owning property because either so many people have left the city or people want to live in homes for free. So when people do try to live for free, it can be problematic.
Squatters are going to be found in every major city, but Detroit has more than its fair share because we have so many vacant homes here. Sometimes squatters cause problems for well-intentioned neighbors; they can be unkempt, they can be rude, they can be loud, but most of all, they're getting off scot-free while the people around them grapple with increased water bills, high property taxes and insurance costs.
So when people actively campaign for squatting and endorse it, I have a problem with it. I don't think it's helping Detroit's situation. The video above is a "nice, quiet, off the grid" house for travelers, writers and other creative types. They said they cleaned it out and added some "beautification," but to me it looks like an unsafe, filthy shithole:
"No electricity, no running water, but we have candles and kerosene lanterns...for creative artists, it's a great way to for a grassroots movement, for people to start to make a living as independent artists, musicians, people who are good at recycling and turning shit into gold."
I defy anyone to prove to me how this will help in the long run. We talk all day about how "at least someone's coming to Detroit so you should be happy that someone's helping," but they're not contributing anything to the city's finances. Want to have an art studio? OK, rent a broom closet in one of the many legit warehouses and other creative spaces like everyone else. Want to start a hostel? Buy a fucking house at the county auction for a grand, cut the fucking grass and restore it properly just like everyone else.
Oh, but wait — Detroit's basically a blank canvas for people like this guy. Because that's what he says.
"It is kind of a counterculture movement of creative expression. People are trying to express themselves through their creative faculties to make a statement about society and the larger society that we live in. Detroit just happens to be a perfect location for that because it's bankrupt, under an emergency manager, there's a lot of demolition and destruction, and violence and crime in the city, and it takes a community to pull together to make stuff work around here."
I fail to see how junk piled up in a dilapidated house you have no intention on fixing up is going to help pull the community together. I guarantee if this guy was any race but white, he'd be told to get his shit together and pay up like everyone else. (And I've been engaged in debate as to whether the guy in the video is a hipster or a hippie. Call them hipsquatters, if you will.)
This isn't a rebirth of Detroit, like this video says. It's fucking blight and freeloaders, and the city needs to crack down on this shit.