In the 2000 census, Detroit had a population of 951,270 residents, marking the first time since 1920 that the city's population had dipped below one million. By 2011, the city had 706,585 residents, whose racial composition was 82.7% African American, 10.6% White, 6.8% Hispanic, and 1.1% Asian. Detroit's population has fallen by more than 60 percent from the city's population of 1.85 million in 1950.
For more than four decades, many neighborhoods in Detroit have suffered immense population decline and related urban disinvestment and deterioration. This loss in population and jobs is a direct repercussion of the declining manufacturing base of the region, especially of the Big Three automakers and the even faster shrinkage of industry parts suppliers. The city's poverty rate in 2006 was 32.5 percent, the highest rate for any large (population of over 250,000) city in the country. Unemployment in Detroit is also high. In 2006, the Bureau of Labor Statistics estimated the annual unemployment rate in the city of Detroit to be 13.7 percent – except for post-Katrina New Orleans, this marked the highest rate, by far, of the United States' 50 most populous cities (Fresno, which ranked second highest, had an unemployment rate of 7.5 percent).
Despite the daunting task of working against the tide of automotive industry decline, community wealth building institutions in Detroit have had some significant successes. From 1991 through 2005, $9.5 million in loans and grants from Living Cities and additional support from Detroit LISC helped to generate $337 million worth of housing projects, resulting in 3,547 affordable housing units. The fruits of rebuilding efforts are visible in Corktown (where Tiger Stadium was located), Mexicantown (in southwest Detroit, near the Ambassador Bridge that links Detroit to Windsor, Canada), the Morningside neighborhood on Detroit's east side, and in parts of downtown Detroit.
Faced with the recent spate of manufacturing lay-offs, both the City of Detroit and the philanthropic community are stepping up their community building efforts. The City's program, labeled the NEXT Detroit Neighborhood Initiative, will spend $125 million of public funds over five years to implement six neighborhood plans that have been developed through a 15-month community planning process. The philanthropic community has pledged $100 million to create a “New Economy Initiative” fund that will “target companies and projects aimed at diversifying Michigan's ‘old economy'.” The Ford, Kresge and Kellogg foundations have each committed $25 million, with the remaining $25 million coming from the Knight, Hudson-Webber, Max and Marjorie Fisher, C.S. Mott, Skillman, the Community Foundation for Southeast Michicago, and the McGregor Fund.
An overview of community wealth building efforts follows: