Volume 30

The Detroit Land Bank Authority: A Modern Tool Perpetuating Racism & Classism in the City

by Samantha Rudelich

Detroit has a long history of pushing out local residents and limiting their land ownership; a history rooted in racism and classism. This has led to large amounts of land in the city not under the control of residents and long-time Detroiters, but under the control of the city itself. Cities with large amounts of vacant and foreclosed land across the country have turned to land banks as the managing tool for this land. The current land system in Detroit relies on the Detroit Land Bank Authority (DLBA) to manage the vacant and foreclosed properties in the city. While DLBA exerts significant power and control over the land in Detroit, it is a largely unregulated and unaccountable public institution. As DLBA continues to benefit from the large amounts of land in the city, to the detriment of long-term residents, it’s crucial to understand how this public entity can continue to operate in a harmful way. This Note analyzes the DLBA and their operation within the city of Detroit, while offering a concrete path forward that begins to serve Detroiters.

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