The area around Gratiot and Seven Mile on Detroit’s east side has been invaded by a horde of suburban dope fiends. Hundreds of them. A veritable Drugburbia. And if City Hall doesn’t start paying some attention around here soon, Detroit may very well become the next San Francisco.
The homeless ratio is roughly the same in San Francisco as it is in Detroit, but here you don’t see the junkies flopped out on the streets. In the Motor City, they’ve taken up residence in the abandoned houses, many of which are owned by the incompetent and absentee Detroit Land Bank Authority.
San Francisco (population 810,000 and falling) counted 7,700 homeless people last year. Detroit (population 630,000 and falling) claims 5,600 homeless. Surely Detroit’s number is an undercount since the data is two years old, collected at the height of the pandemic.
HUD requires any community that receives federal funding for homelessness to conduct a head count on a single night once every two years. This includes people in shelters or sleeping outdoors, in cars or other places not considered permanent housing.
This would include those living in condemned houses, I would presume. But I’ve never seen a homeless head-counter knocking on those doors in the dead of night.
Consider Liberal Street, which ought to be renamed Laissez-faire Boulevard since the city seems to completely ignore it. The houses are burned up and the junkies have taken them over, and also the abandoned RVs in the alleyways.
The dope houses aren’t hard to find; just follow the White women with bruises on their legs or the men picking imaginary insects from their faces. One tweaker scolded me to get off his land, that he was fixing the place up for his father. I checked. The property belongs to the Land Bank.
The legitimate, longtime neighbors complain to the city. They get nothing. Their city councilman, Scott Benson, is no help. Most people around here don’t know who Scott Benson is. Those who do remember him as the guy who was raided by the FBI. Whatever happened with that, they wonder?
Richard Wilson, a retired autoworker, lives on Verona Street next to an overgrown house of horrors owned by the Land Bank. He was forced to take a potshot at a junkie with his 12-gauge shotgun because the junkie was trying to break into his garage.
Across the street from Wilson is another dope house owned by the Land Bank. Since the “house” is also across the street from Pulaski elementary school, the city was shamed into boarding it up. Why the city won’t tear it down is beyond me. The ceiling has long since caved in and the walls are infected with black mold.
In any event, Land Bank workers forgot to board up the detached garage, which quickly became an impromptu clubhouse for the now homeless addicts who once lived in the house. Nobody swept the sidewalk. Hypodermic needles still litter the driveway like so many autumn leaves.
A father of one of the schoolchildren took it upon himself to board up the garage last week. He’s considered something of a hero around here now. People are talking about electing him to the City Council.
Drug zombies, of course, are human beings. They are somebody’s children. But they don’t live at home anymore because their habits and behaviors have become so grotesque, they had to be put out. Now they’ve taken up residence in someone else’s vicinity and make perfect strangers’ lives a living hell.
How bad is it? There was a crack house on Saratoga Street where seven people were shot last summer; two died on the lawn. Amazingly, the place was open for business two weeks later, until again, we shamed the city. When the cops came, the addicts simply moved across the street into a city-owned house.
That doesn’t even happen in Frisco.