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By Charlotte Young

There was a time when black Americans jumped at the opportunity to settle in Detroit, but that was almost a century ago. The city, which once boasted a thriving auto industry, is now devastated by its collapse.  A census data report Tuesday revealed Detroit’s population has plummeted 25 percent over the past decade.

According to The New York Times, more people have left Detroit (237,500) than New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina (140,000). It is now smaller than Austin, Texas and Charlotte, NC.

At one point, 83 percent of Detroit’s population was black. Brookings Institution demographer William Frey says that the city lost 185,393 black residents in the last decade. He attributes the cause to the large amount of housing foreclosures in the city. Many blacks have moved to neighboring suburbs, but neighboring suburbs have also faced population losses.

L. Brooks Patterson, the country executive of nearby Oakland Country, said that, “Detroit’s tax base is eroding, its citizens are fleeing and its school system is in the hands of a financial manager.”

One resident, Samantha Howell, noted that now the “city feels empty physically, empty of people, empty of ambition, drive.”

This drop in population makes Detroit the only city in the US which has seen both a population rise and fall by one million residents.

The census is a blow to those who were attempting to lure potential investors and prepare Detroit for a comeback. City officials plan to contest the census report, believing it most likely, “missed tens of thousands of residents.”

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