Micah 6 Community: The City

Below is a rough sketch of the city we are planning on putting Micah 6 Community.  This research was put together to help explain where and why we believe we need to move into Pontiac.

Pontiac, MI

Population
The current population of Pontiac is just under 60,000 people.  This represents a loss of 10% of its population in the past ten years, a statistic not uncommon here in Southeast Michigan.[1]

Employment
Unemployment is at 25%.[2]  Much of this unemployment is tied to the struggling auto industry and the closing of the main Pontiac plant, which devastated the community.[3]

Education
Of people over the age of eighteen years-old, only 68% have a high school diploma.[4]  More than 90 percent of students live in low-income families and only about half of the students who entered ninth grade in 2009 are projected to graduate in 2013, unless something is done to change those predictions.[5]  Though many of these students live in poverty, Pontiac does not have the homelessness issues that you find in Detroit.  Only 1% of Pontiac’s students are living in a state of homelessness.  This could be because of a lack of shelters in the area.  Meaning, that if you were to become homeless, you would have to go to another city to live in a Mission or temporary shelter.

Many studies will show that a lack of education, which in turn means an inability to achieve even a middle-income job, can lead to higher crime rates.  With numbers like these, the future looks bleak for Pontiac.

Crime
It is hard to get a feel for where Pontiac is in terms of crime nationally, but it is sandwiched in between the number one (Flint) and number two (Detroit) cities with highest crime rates.[6]  Often these ratings include Pontiac in the Detroit statistics, but in some categories Pontiac is more violent that Detroit.

So, why in the world are we going there?
Pontiac, along with its two older brothers Detroit and Flint, are in crisis right now.  You don’t have to look too long to find comparisons to post-apocalyptic worlds, where many are fighting over a few resources, or comparisons to third-world situations with monolithic leaders, governmental corruption, high illiteracy, high teen pregnancy rates and high infant mortality rates.

The difference between the three is that Flint and Detroit are getting a lot of national attention.  This leads to many young social-entrepreneurs with ideas and capital moving to those cities to see what they can do.  I know this first hand because that is why I (Coleman) moved here last year.  I spent a lot of time in Detroit talking with hundreds of people who were all moving to Detroit to start new businesses, try this piece of social work and revitalize this area and that.  Flint is experiencing some of this also.  The University of Michigan has a campus there that is churning out graduates who are taking an interest in the formerly great city.  Detroit and Flint have a certain “cool factor” that Pontiac doesn’t have.[8]

Pontiac has none of these advantages.  In the disbursement of young social-entrepreneurs, young families, young professionals and even church planters, Pontiac is completely overlooked.

But Pontiac does have its benefits.  For instance, the housing market is completely crashed.  In Pontiac today you can buy a 1,000 sq/ft home for $5,000.  This means that buying a house and getting started will not require much start-up capital.  This also means that moving others into the area who want to make a difference will be affordable.

With a population of 60,000 Pontiac is not the daunting task that other cities seem to be.  People in Southeast Michigan are reluctant to put much money into revitalization projects in Detroit because they see it as a 700,000 person ghetto.[9]  But Pontiac is smaller than most of its neighboring, successful suburbs.  Where Detroit and Flint are getting many of the young entrepreneurs from elsewhere, Pontiac is the place that most locals think can make a strong come-back. This being the case, it will be easier to bring members of our faith communities in the suburbs to help us get on mission in Pontiac.


[1] Detroit is down 10% as well.  Flint has dropped by 18% according to the 2010 U.S. Census Data. http://quickfacts.census.gov/qfd/states/26/2665440.html

[2] http://www.city-data.com/city/Pontiac-Michigan.html

[3] “Pontiac on a Tough Road After Plant Closes.”  http://www.marketplace.org/topics/business/pontiac-tough-road- after-plants-close.  June 2, 2009.

[4] Ibid.

[5] “Pontiac schools receives $7.3M grant to increase high school graduation rates” Oakland Press. January 11, 2011.

[6] “Ten Most Dangerous Cities in America.” The Atlantic. May 26, 2011.

[7] Ibid.

[8] Detroit has the 15th most registered Non-profits in the nation.

[9] Though it has the 15th most nonprofits, it is the least giving city to those nonprofits. See: http://www.mainstreet.com/slideshow/moneyinvesting/news/least-charitable-cities-america

Follow our work more closely:
Facebook.com/micah6community
twitter: @micah6community
micah6community@gmail.com

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About coleyoakum

My name is Coleman Yoakum. I am formerly a student at Harding University. Today you can find me in Detroit Michigan doing what I can to expand the Kingdom of God and preparing to start an intentional community in Pontiac. I enjoy reading, writing, photography, music and politics. I am sure that all of these things will find their way to this blog from time to time. Twitter: coleyoakum Facebook: Coleman Yoakum Email: coleyoakum@gmail.com Flickr: flickr.com/photos/coleyoakum/

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