Brick + Beam Detroit

Black Neighborhoods Matter


Black Lives Matter. 

This should go without stating, but since it doesn’t at this moment, we want you to be sure of where we stand. The centuries-long oppression of Black people is coming to a boiling point, and we hope these protests and actions yield fundamental systemic change. Police brutality is but one of the manifestations of the inequality and oppression in this country. 

Black Neighborhoods Matter. 

Who owns property in our neighborhoods matters. At Brick + Beam Detroit, we think of fixer-upper homes as an economic opportunity, and pathway to bring more people into homeownership, especially Black people who have been systemically left out.

Equity-minded Real Estate Efforts in Detroit

  • Building Community Value offers the Better Buildings, Better Blocks training course designed to teach the nuts and bolts of small-scale real estate development.  

  • Mona Lisa Development: Mona Lisa is a Detroit-based development, consulting & construction firm. Mona Lisa works as both owner/developer and as advisor, thinking critically about impact on the community and environment. Mona Lisa Development is motivated to preserve place and people in the creation of neighborhood masterpieces. Check out Monique’s interview with Jane Sanders, covering a lot of the development related challenges in Detroit.  

  • Community Development Advocates of Detroit: CDAD supports community development groups and Detroit residents through advocacy, education, and action. One of their core values being Equity: acknowledging that community development is about social justice – the right of everyone to participate, make decisions and determine the future of their neighborhoods and community.


Black Homeownership Matters. 

Black Americans have been shut out of wealth building through property ownership throughout most of our country’s history. Property ownership has always been inextricably linked to power in this country, and segregation of neighborhoods (legally and systemically) has been one of the enduring oppressions that Black Detroiters and Black Americans across the country have faced. In the next few weeks, B+BD will be creating some additional resources about the intersections of racism and property ownership, but we wanted to share some links to opportunities to learn more about the unequal and unjust distribution of property and racist systems that have shaped (and continue to shape) our communities. 

  • Check out the Social Club’s Shop Talk exploring real estate development in the city of Detroit: Sebastian Jackson, Founder and CEO of The Social Club Grooming Company talking with Andrew Colom and David Alade of Century Partners

  • NCRC's reports on Redlining (and it’s lasting effects today) and Shifting Neighborhoods

  • Brookings Reports on “The devaluation of assets in black neighborhoods” 

  • Mapping Inequity digitized HOLC (“redlining”) maps, see Detroit’s map here. 

  • “Race for Profit: How Banks and the Real Estate Industry Undermined Black Home Ownership” examines why the U.S. homeownership rate for Black Americans has fallen to its lowest level since before the civil rights movement. In 2019, the rate fell to just 40%, the lowest level since 1950.

  • Know Your Price- Valuing Black Lives and Property in America’s Black Cities: The deliberate devaluation of Blacks and their communities has had far-reaching and negative economic and social effects. Exploring six Black-majority cities (including Detroit) whose assets and strengths are undervalued, the book provides a new means of determining the value of Black communities. 

  • The Color of Law: 1940s-50s federal housing policies mandated segregation and undermined the ability of black families to own homes and build wealth.

  • Arc of Justice: The nonfiction account of Dr. Ossian Sweet's struggle in 1920s Detroit to hold on to his hard-won family home in the face of violent threats from his white racist neighbors.

  • Redevelopment and Race: Planning a Finer City in Postwar Detroit Explores the efforts of planners to slow decline in Detroit following World War II through an acclaimed master plan and transformative redevelopment projects. What went wrong? Thomas argues that planners’ erasure of low-income people and Black people doomed their efforts and makes the case for planning that integrates equity alongside economic revitalization.

  • The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America’s Great Migration The definitive history of how and why six million black Southerners relocated in search of a better life between 1915 and 1970, and what they found when they got there — both the relief of beginning anew and codes of silent discrimination. 

  • Chocolate Cities: The Black Map of American Life: Drawing on cultural sources such as film, music, fiction, and plays, and on traditional resources like Census data, oral histories, ethnographies, and health and wealth data, the book offers a new perspective for analyzing, mapping, and understanding the ebbs and flows of the Black American experience--all in the cities, towns, neighborhoods, and communities that Black Americans have created and defended. (from the Black Urbanist’s Resource List)

  • Root Shock-- How Tearing Up City Neighborhoods Hurts America and What We Can Do About It: Reveals the disturbing outcome of decades of urban renewal projects to communities of color. Urban renewal programs, spearheaded by business and real estate interests, destroyed an estimated 1,600 African American districts in cities across the United States. But urban renewal didn't just disrupt black communities: the anger it caused led to riots that sent whites fleeing for the suburbs, stripping them of their sense of place as well. (from the Black Urbanist’s Resource List)

  • Discussion with Jamon Jordan about the history of Black Bottom, and the razing of the Black neighborhood, a center of the Black community, to make way for urban renewal, including I-75. 

This list is only a start, if you have some essential reading related to homeownership and race that you think should be added, please feel free to email us at [email protected]

If you are interested in supporting the Detroit movements calling to end police brutality, here are a few links to help you navigate:


We’re going to keep donating, protesting, learning, and working towards a more just and equitable Detroit. 

Black Lives Matter. 

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