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May 17, 1959 - Image 9

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 1959-05-17

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(Continued from Preceding Page)
Better housing would bring in
more Negro professional people,
who, he charged, have not been
moving to Ann Arbor because they
cannot find adequate housing. At-
tracting them would benefit the
whole city, he said.,
"I don't see how you can say
it'll hurt people in the long run,"
Mial said. "It would mean the end
of the ghetto that the area is."
He claimed it would reduce the
"control" in the area that is ex-
erted through the power of a land-
lord and through land contracts,
which are much like mortgages
held by an individual rather than
a financial institution.
Urban Renewal would do so, he
claims, by "enhancing the dignity
of home ownership" and by re-
moving the necessity ;or borrow-
ers to get the type of approval
they now must get. After the
leaders in the area are gone, Mial
said, "the children will be left,
and in my opinion their future
should be our primary concern."
"Slaughterhouse" .
"Yes sir, we want Urban Renew-
al, very definitely," Mrs. Emery
Gates of 126 E. Summit St. de-
clared. "I love my home as well
as anybody else. I: have my pride.
"How would you like a slaugh-
terhouse right next to you if you
had a sick person who couldn't
get to sleep because of it? People
come down here to use their cars
for lovers' lane."
"And the rats from the junk-
yard," her husband added. "You
can hardly sleep for skunks."
"I want Urban Renewal for the
sake of the whole neighborhood,"
Mrs. Gates said. "I want it for the
kids" and for their children.
The Gates have lived in their
home 14 years, Gates said, but for
six years they have held off re-
habilitating it until they knew
what would happen under Urban
Renewal. He said he didn't think
their home would be taken away,
but really didn't know what would
What if it were removed? "If it
hurts me, it'll just have to hurt,"
Gates said. "You've got to hurt
so m e b o d y, regardless. There's
never been progress made any
other way."
"For the girds" .. .
"It's for the birds, don't let
anybody ever kid you," Cliff Gurk
of 526 Detroit St. said. "Urban

Renewal is good for the big man.
There'll be a big land graft."
"These are all good sound
houses, better than they build
today," Gurk went on. "A lot of
old people have got their life
earnings in their houses."
But "they" want Ann Arbor to
be perfect, he said. "They figure
everybody's rich, and they sit back
and rob the taxpayers so much it's
a wonder they don't leave town.
"The Greeks control the town,
as far as money is concerned. It's
a University deal, don't kid your-
self. The big businessmen want to
make some money too."
"If it goes through, they'd bet-
ter build a couple hundred more
rooms in the poorhouse. People
are losing what they gained in
30-40 years. People with nothing
have got no chance in the world."
"If they take my house away,"
Gurk said, "they'll get me another
one. You can't replace what I've
got for $25,000" - a house, a ga-
rage he added, and a location at
which:'he is known to be. In win-
ter he sells Christmas trees; in
summer he hauls gravel.
'Not Opposed' . .
"People say I'm opposed to Ur-
ban Renewal," said Douglas Wil-
liams, .Executive Secretary of ;the
Ann Arbor Community Center.
"But I'm not. Something's got to
be done, and I wouldn't be a con-
scientious social worker and not
be in favor of a better life for
the people."
Williams said he had opposed
the plan made by the Citizens''
Committee as too drastic. He ex-
pressed concern about families to
be displaced, pointing at a house
across the street. Its owner had
bought it for $2,500 and put about
$11,000 more into it for improve-
ments, Williams said.
The man is 63 years old, he
continued, and if the city took his
house without paying him enough,
"What can he do but become a
As for the present plan, Wil-
liams said, his health had pre-
vented him from keeping up, on
it enough to be able to express an
opinion for or against it.
'Dancing Around Issue'
The opponents of Urban Renew-
al are "picking out the sore spots
and dancing around the issue,"
Don Calvert of 306 E. Summit St.
They are overlooking the gains

. ,. "it'd just have to hurt"

of the program, and the problem
that would remain if the program
were not passed.
The area has to be improved
sometime, Calvert said. It has
come up "quite a bit" in the last
three or four years, but voluntary
improvement would not remove
the slaughterhouse and junkyard
or improve housing nearly as much
as Urban Renewal would.
Even now, he pointed out, the
city has the power to condemn
houses if they're not brought up
to code. He said that if it did so
without Urban Renewal the own-
ers would not have the plan's of-
fer of relocation housing, and they
would not have the FHA offer to
guarantee loans.
"Urban Renewal would clear
Ann Arbor of, a potential slum
area," he said. "What's eleven
dollars a person for that? (Ac-
cording to a Democratic Party
brochure, Urban Renewal would
cost about $11 for one year to a
citizen with property assessed at
"It's a bunch of hogwash to say
it's not needed. The slaughter-
house and junkyard have no place
in a residential district, and there
are no real park facilities." It
means "a heck of a lot," he said, to
a child in school "to live in an,
area he's not ashamed of."
"Sure it'll cost money and hurt
some people. Naturally." But the!
plan would do more good than
harm, and some of the "sores" in
it are not as bad as they may seem.
For instance, he doubts that prop-
erty values would drop if the con-
troversial strip of Main St. were
rezoned residential.
"It'll still be a Negro area," he
said, so the demand will be heavy
as long as Negroes are geographi-
cally restricted in buying property.
What does he think of the idea
that a power struggle between
leaders in the area is partly re-
sponsible for opposition to Urban
Renewal? "Well, that's an old ar-
gument," he said, "Of course, the
newer leaders have a following
too. It's only human to try to keep
your following."
It was a mistake, he admits, not
to come to the people sooner in
the planning, but still the majorit
ty of the people in the area are
for the plan if it is explained ac-
curately to them. "It gripes me,"
he said, to hear people try to say
the opposite.
Calvert and his wife rent an
apartment that is up to code.
"Heard a Lot" ...
Thomas W. Sheppeard of 717
N. Fourth St. said, "I've talked

about it, but I don't know enough
about it to know if it's good or
"I heard a lot about it last
spring, he went on. "Some people
said it was all right, and some said
it wasn't." Since then "I've been
asking people about it some," and
have been to a few CURE meet-
ings, but still "I just haven't been
around enough to hear enough. I
don't know more than people tell
He has been in his present
house 21 months, he said. In that
time her has fixed up' his front
yard but would like to do more.
He would also like, he said, to fill
in his back yard somewhat and
to build a garage in back, but "I
don't want to go into debt." He
added that his house was up to
code when it was inspected last
"Give a Chance" ...
"I think they should give the
homeowners a chance to fix up
their places," retired homeowner
Walter Perkins of 522 Detroit St.,
"They're ,tearing down too
much;" his wife added. ,$ said
she had read that $5,000 was be-
ing given to those whose houses
were taken, but didn't know for
She said they had voted against
Urban Renewal in the city elec-
tion April 6. "This man we've 'got
in now is against it," she said of
Mayor Cecil 0. Creal. "He has
promised to change some things."
She and her husband always vote
straight Republican, she said.
Mrs. Perkins said their house is
scheduled only to be improved.
"Nobody has come through here
to tell us what we've got to do,"
Perkins added. "Nothing is laid
out for us to go by." He said he
couldn't say anything more about
their plans until they find out
"what they're going to do and
how we're going to get the
"Don't Really Know"
"I don't really know too much
about Urban Renewal," Mrs. La-
Vaughn Wilson of 637 N. Fourth
Ave. said.
Somebody had told her husband
he didn't think their house would
go, she said. "I wonder why they'd
let it stay?" she asked. It is very
tall and narrow, especially be-
cause of the attic. They have re-
cently painted the woodwork, the
porches and the inside walls.
She said Urban Renewal would
make the street pretty, but that
she didn't really understand it.

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