Residents concerned with displacement as construction begins on new Gordie Howe International Bridge

Posted at 4:44 PM, Jul 17, 2018
and last updated 2018-07-17 18:08:58-04

Construction began Tuesday morning on the new Gordie Howe International Bridge, but residents in the community are questioning the price of progress, especially when it means starting over and saying goodbye to their homes. 

While flowers bloom outside Debra Williams' childhood home, not everything is a ray of sunshine. After more than  70 years at the home, the city has offered Debra's father a chance to move into a different house owned by the land bank. He's just a short distance from the future site of the Gordie Howe bridge. 

“This has been a hard fight for us," Williams said. "The fact we’ve had to fight for things like community benefits, that doesn’t feel good.”

Some residents have been compensated for the move, others are still in the area living in the same homes and wondering how much longer they can stay as heavy equipment is being delivered. On Tuesday, those behind the bridge project broke ground.

MIchigan Governor Rick Snyder said that residents are being treated fairly during the relocation process. 

“What’s being done to make sure people who haven’t relocated are being treated fairly? We’re going through and it’s going well," Snyder said. "I had a chance to talk to neighborhood people today.”

However, one neighbor says they're concerned with how the elderly are being treated during this process. 

“What about the governor saying how great this is for everyone? You’re not taking care of the elderly,” said Charlene Giddens.

She's lived in the Delray community most of her life. Giddens says she fears some seniors who can't up and move easily aren't being given enough options, while power players get what they want. 

“Put them into senior homes if they make that choice," she said. "They don’t even have that.”

Some people have taken advantage of a house-swapping program, while others in the area who are choosing to stay are finding themselves part of a shrinking community group.