Honors Theses

Progress and Neglect Within the Same City: Analyzing the Perspective of the Community in Southwest Detroit on Gentrification

Author Full Name
Pamela Beltran-Mayen


Dr. Claude Steele, Department of Psychology

Dr. Michael Kahan, Co-Director, Program on Urban Studies 


Southwest Detroit, a predominantly Latine neighborhood, is located near Detroit’s rapidly gentrifying downtown area. In response to devastating economic challenges, Detroit has taken a “growth first” approach to revitalization. In the past decade, this approach has become apparent through the city’s focused investments of its limited resources in Downtown Detroit and the improvement of pathways to the business district, such as the construction of the Gordie Howe International Bridge. Drawing on the concept of revitalization as a paradox and the significance of culture and place, I investigate how residents of Southwest Detroit have been affected by these changes and how their sense of belonging and place is affected. I conducted 21 semi-structured interviews to study how residents in Southwest Detroit perceive these changes. The findings of this study suggest that the “growth first” approach results in poor infrastructure outcomes within Southwest Detroit due to disinvestment and exacerbates issues, including legal insecurity, displacement, and pollution. This approach has also brought gentrification to Southwest Detroit, along with a declining sense of belonging and sense of place among Southwest Detroit residents. This study furthers research on the role of gentrification in shaping belonging and attachment to place. Within Detroit, it contributes to expanding conversations about revitalization beyond Black-white relationships by capturing the perspectives of a predominantly Latine community.

Read final paper here.