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Community Analysis

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The Beginning Once upon of time Detroit was known as a thriving city. This was the place to come for those “good” factory jobs, where people hoped for a new and better life. Detroit’s population is a very cultural and diverse population who’s goal was to secure a good job, buy a home in a nice neighborhood and raise their family. Similar to the theme song for the television show “The Jeffersons”, people who moved to the Eastside of Detroit, particular zip code 48205 believed they were “moving on up”. Zip code 48205, also known as the Osborn Community is located on the northeast edge of Detroit, bounded by East Eight Mile Road, McNichols Road (Six Mile), Gratiot Avenue and Van Dyke. From 1960 - 1980 the area was occupied by people of all diverse cultures, backgrounds and nationalities, including African Americans, Whites, Hmongs, Italians and Sicilians. Within the Osborn community there is an area named “Mohican-Region” which was once locally called “Little Italy” due to the heavy population of Italians and Sicilians that populated the area. Eventually residence of Little Italy got winded of the drug traffic affecting the blocks near them and quickly move away selling their homes to middle income blacks by 1990 almost all of Detroit Little Italy area was gone! Osborn’s commercial district designated for shopping was located at the Gratiot and 7 Mile corridor. Once a thriving area occupied by department stores such as Federal’s, Montgomery Wards and Fretter Appliances or Kroger’s which is a chain grocery store was no longer. Driving through the community one can’t help but to notice the hope and hopelessness, abundant amount of poverty, blight and renewed vision battling for a spot in Osborn. (Lewis, 2013)
The Osborn community is about 4 square miles consisting of 27,166 people including 9,116 youth between the ages of zero - eighteen. Of the total population 93.5 percent are African Americans, 1.2 percent are white, 0.6 percent are Hispanic, 2.0 are multi-racial and the other 2.8 percent is a mixture of all other races, including the Hmong community. All of whom differ in many areas such as ethnicity, socioeconomic status, housing statistics, and health values. While Osborn has experienced population decreases cross all race/ethnic groups over the last decade, the largest losses occurred among whites, Asians (Hmong) and Multi Race groups. African Americans, while decreasing in number by 21.1 percent, experienced an increase in their share of the neighborhood's population from 84.1 percent in 2000 to 91.3 percent in 2010. The second largest group was whites at 4.3 percent, down 64 percent in number from an 8.6 percent share in 2000. The Asian population, accounting for 2.1 percent of the neighborhood's population and represented primarily by the Hmong who had established a tight knit community in Osborn, decreased in number from 1,700 to 560, a loss of two-thirds. The most popular occupation for the population in the Osborn Community is the service industry including jobs such as educational services, and health care and social assistance. The median income is $29,025 which is well below the national and state median of $50,502 and $45,981 respectively. (Data Driven Detroit, 2013) (American Fact Finder, 2012) (US Census, 2012).
Crime and high incidences of foreclosure and blight are major issues are now major challenges plaguing the community which is a direct connect to the population loss. Housing affordability is a critical factor in understanding the stability of a neighborhood. By 1980s as the black community expanded more into the Osborn Community. A black gang called the Best Friends began to flow crack into the neighborhood which was start of the the steady decline in Detroit’s zip code 48205, the Osborn Community. Drug dealing and gang violence ravaged the community. Due to the increase in the challenges the Osborn Community has been presented with the housing stability in Osborn is at risk. There has also been an heavy increase in mortgage foreclosures and disinvestment. In the summer of 2008, more than 1500 houses and 700 lots were vacant in Osborn. Drug dealing and gang violence has ravaged the Osborn community resulting in, and contributing to the Detroit News identifying the community as “Detroit’s deadliest neighborhood” (Hunger and Wilkinson, 2011). The Osborn Community is a great challenge both to assess and for which to create solutions. The community suffers from a large number of issues ranging from pollution to violence to lack of health care resources. There are many programs and organizations that are investing time, money and resources into the improvement of the area and they are making great progress.
Ecological & Systems
The ecological perspective reflects on and proposes that people are not only influenced by the environment, but also suggests reciprocity between people and his or her environments. With that in mind, the increased crime rates and decline as a thriving community are seemingly interrelated. In other words, the residents in the Osborn community are more likely, than not, to be either victims of, or participants of crime or illegal activity. On the contrary you have those that want to see a difference in the community. The youth and residents volunteer for organizations and committees to be the change they want to see in the community.
However, on the other hand, the systems perspective attacks the challenges of the community on a greater scale. Organizations, business and agencies have joined forces and created a horizontal community within the Osborn Neighborhood. Organizations such as BuildOn, Matrix Human Services, Black Family Development and Neighborhood Service Organizations are working together to serve the community. They are also analyzing other areas in the city of Detroit that are dealing or have dealt with similar issues provides insight on what needs to be done to bring about change using the organizations in the other areas as their vertical community. Instead of the vertical community being adopted as a decision maker they simply provide insight to current community living and situations. Organizations such as Osborn Neighborhood Alliance has been able to advocate for grant funding to improve city blocks. Funding by the Skillman Foundation as part of the Good Neighborhood Initiatives, the Osborn Community has executed several board-ups and clean-ups with hopes of relieving some of the blight in the community and restoring new life. Crossing boundaries, which sometimes happens in systems theory, Wells Fargo, a financial institution, saw the work and decided to donate $450,000 for the execution of additional building board-ups. Although there has been some progress with improving the neighborhood from a result of many years of neglect, they stakeholders in the community see the light and refuse to throw in the towel. (Netting, Kettner, McMurtry, & Thomas, 2012)
In conclusion, the Osborn Community has experienced many changes of the years; From being a heavily sought after residential neighborhood, the place to call home for your family to a heavily blighted and high crime community. The demographics of the residents has changed greatly over the years while the population is continuing to decline. Although there are some people that have conformed to their environment, there are others that see the neighborhood for what it use to be or what it could be and they will continue to do the work to improve living in the Osborn Community.


Data Driven Detroit. (2013, July). Data Driven Detroit. Retrieved from http://

Dickerson, A. J. (1990, October 28). Once an Industrial Mecca, Detroit Fights Back Against Crime and Decay : Cities: Those who could afford to fled the troubled schools and soaring murder rate. But citizen action and a new Canadian trade pact could give the town new life. LA Times [Los Angeles], p. C4. - Stats about all US cities - real estate, relocation info, crime, house prices, cost of living, races, home value estimator, recent sales, income, photos, schools, maps, weather, neighborhoods, and more. (n.d.). Retrieved November 11, 2014, from

Hunter, G. & Wilkinson, M. (2011, September 2). Detroit’s deadliest neighborhood. Retrieved from,

Lewis, M. (2013, April 30). Detroit by district: Beginning a new series on emerging neighborhood leadership. Model D [Detroit]. Retrieved from http://http://

Netting, F. E., Kettner, P. M., McMurtry, S. L., & Thomas, M. L. (2012). Social work macro practice (5th ed.). Up Saddle River, NJ: Pearson.

Skillman Foundation. (2013, July 16). Model D launches "On The Ground" neighborhood media project in Detroit. Model D [Detroit]. Retrieved from http://http://

United States Government. (n.d.). Retrieved from

U.S. Census Bureau. (2010). American FactFinder - Results. Retrieved from http://

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