Broke: Hardship and Resilience in a City of Broken Promises

Broke: Hardship and Resilience in a City of Broken Promises

Jodie Adams Kirshner
Broke: Hardship and Resilience in a City of Broken Promises

Broke: Hardship and Resilience in a City of Broken Promises

Jodie Adams Kirshner


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" showcasing people who are persistent, clever, flawed, loving, struggling and full of contradictions, Broke affirms why it’s worth solving the hardest problems in our most challenging cities in the first place. " —Anna Clark, The New York Times

"Through in-depth reporting of structural inequality as it affects real people in Detroit, Jodie Adams Kirshner's Broke examines one side of the economic divide in America" —Salon

"What Broke really tells us is how systems of government, law and finance can crush even the hardiest of boot-strap pullers." —Brian Alexander, author of Glass House

A galvanizing, narrative account of a city’s bankruptcy and its aftermath told through
the lives of seven valiantly struggling Detroiters

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.

Like Matthew Desmond’s Evicted, 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—the economic engine of America—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.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781250220639
Publisher: St. Martin's Publishing Group
Publication date: 11/19/2019
Pages: 368
Product dimensions: 5.40(w) x 8.40(h) x 1.40(d)

About the Author

Jodie Adams Kirshner is a research professor at New York University. Previously on the law faculty at Cambridge University, she also teaches bankruptcy law at Columbia Law School. She is a member of the American Law Institute, past term member of the Council on Foreign Relations, and technical advisor to the Bank for International Settlements. She received a prestigious multi-year grant from the Kresge Foundation to research this book.

Table of Contents

Foreword: Detroit vs. Everybody, by Michael Eric Dyson
Prologue: Springtime in Detroit

Part One: Bankruptcy
1. Emergency Management
2. Home
3. Census
4. Detroit Hustles Harder
5. Bottom Line
6. Exit from Bankruptcy

Part Two: Emergence
7. A Decent Home
8. The Architectural Imagination
9. If You Build It
10. Having Trouble Getting a Job? Start Your Own!
11. The Motor city
12. City on the Move
13. The Campaign

Part Three: Prospects
14. Report Cards
15. The Way We Live Now
16. I'm from the Government, and I'm Here to Help
17. Nice Work if You Can Get It
18. New Beginnings
19. Bait and Switch
20. Detroit Versus Everybody

Epilogue: We Hope for Better Things

Author's Note

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