Bankruptcy recently hit the city of Detroit in the USA, proving to be one of the biggest financial disasters of recent years with reports of an approximate €15 billion debt.
However, no other neighbourhood was struck as hard as Old Redford. Piles of rubble, deserted houses and signs with death threats against trespassers litter the streets of Old Redford, which is now seen as the “forbidden” district of the city.
John George, head of the Motor City Blight Buster (MCBB), told Expresso newspaper that the goal now is to renegotiate the debt payments and concentrate on essential tasks such as cleaning up, guaranteeing security and re-building infrastructures.
George was born and bred in the city and saw the “destructive wave growing and approaching” without any action from the Detroit politicians, some of whom are now behind bars for corruption and extortion charges, such as former mayor Kwame Kilpatrick.
For the last 25 years, the founder and director of MCBB has developed volunteer programmes in Old Redford. Alongside a group of young individuals, he cleans up neighbourhoods, builds community centres and libraries and develops occupation programmes for children. George believes the actions keep the youths away from the dangers of the streets.
His work has been subject to praise and led him to receive a Point of Light award from the hands of the former US president, Bill Clinton, in 1998.