Broke: Hardship and Resilience in a City of Broken Promises
Date: January 2021
Duration: 8 hours 42 minutes
Bankruptcy and the austerity it represents have become a common 'solution' for struggling American cities. What do the spending cuts and limited resources do to the lives of city residents? In Broke, Jodie Adams Kirshner follows seven Detroiters as they navigate life during and after their city's bankruptcy. Reggie loses his savings trying to make a habitable home for his family. Cindy fights drug use, prostitution, and dumping on her block. Lola commutes two hours a day to her suburban job. For them, financial issues are mired within the larger ramifications of poor urban policies, restorative negligence on the state and federal level and-even before the decision to declare Detroit bankrupt in 2013-the root causes of a city's fiscal demise.
Broke looks at what municipal distress means, not just on paper but in practical-and personal-terms. More than 40 percent of Detroit's 700,000 residents fall below the poverty line. Post-bankruptcy, they struggle with a broken real estate market, school system, and job market-and their lives have not improved.
Detroit is emblematic. Kirshner makes a powerful argument that cities are never quite given the aid that they need by either the state or federal government for their residents to survive, not to mention flourish. Success for all America's citizens depends on equity of opportunity.