Michigan is a state with diverse landscapes, rich culture, and a proud history. However, not all places in Michigan are equally desirable to live in. According to a recent study by 24/7 Wall St., a financial news website, there is one city in Michigan that stands out as the worst place to live in the state. That city is Beecher, a northern suburb of Flint.
What makes Beecher the worst place to live in Michigan?
The study by 24/7 Wall St. used 22 measures across three categories: economy, quality of life, and community, to rank the worst cities to live in every state. The data came from sources such as the U.S. Census Bureau, the FBI, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and covered the period from 2017 to 2021.
Some of the factors that contributed to Beecher’s low ranking are:
Poverty rate: Beecher has a poverty rate of 32.4%, which is nearly 2.5 times higher than the state average of 13.3%. Nearly a third of Beecher’s residents live below the poverty level, which means they struggle to afford basic necessities such as food, housing, and health care.
Median home value: Beecher has a median home value of $33,700, which is the lowest among all places in Michigan with at least 8,000 people. The state median home value is $172,100. Low home values indicate low demand for housing, low quality of housing, and low investment in the community.
Median household income: Beecher has a median household income of $33,105, which is less than half of the state median household income of $63,202. Low income limits the opportunities and choices that people have, and affects their well-being and happiness.
Drug-induced mortality: Beecher has a drug-induced mortality rate of 47.7 per 100,000 people, which is much higher than the state rate of 28.9 per 100,000. Drug-induced deaths include those caused by overdoses, suicides, homicides, and accidents involving drugs. High drug-induced mortality reflects the prevalence of substance abuse, mental health issues, and violence in the community.
What are the challenges and opportunities for Beecher?
Beecher is not alone in facing these challenges. Many places in Michigan, especially in the Flint metropolitan area, have suffered from economic decline, population loss, environmental contamination, and social problems in recent decades. The Flint water crisis, which exposed thousands of residents to lead and other toxins in their drinking water, is one of the most notorious examples of the hardships that people in this region have endured.
However, there are also signs of hope and resilience in Beecher and its surroundings. Some of the initiatives and opportunities that could improve the situation are:
Community engagement: Beecher has a strong sense of community and identity, as evidenced by its local events, organizations, and institutions. For example, the Beecher Community School District, which serves about 1,500 students, has been recognized for its academic achievements, extracurricular activities, and community partnerships. The district also offers free breakfast and lunch to all students, as well as free preschool and after-school programs.
The Beecher Community Action Agency, a non-profit organization, provides various services and programs to low-income families and individuals, such as emergency assistance, home weatherization, youth development, and senior support. The Beecher Community Library, which is part of the Genesee District Library system, offers free access to books, computers, internet, and educational resources. These and other community assets could be leveraged to foster civic engagement, social capital, and collective action among Beecher’s residents.
Economic development: Beecher could benefit from the economic development efforts that are taking place in the Flint area and beyond. For example, the Flint & Genesee Chamber of Commerce, which represents more than 1,200 businesses and organizations, provides various services and programs to support business growth, workforce development, tourism, and regional collaboration.
The chamber also administers the Flint Promise, a scholarship program that covers the cost of college tuition and fees for eligible Flint high school graduates. The Flint & Genesee Economic Alliance, a newly formed entity, aims to attract and retain businesses and investments in the region, and to create a more diverse and inclusive economy. The Michigan Economic Development Corporation, the state’s lead agency for economic development, offers various incentives and resources to help businesses and communities thrive in Michigan. These and other economic development initiatives could create more jobs, income, and opportunities for Beecher’s residents.
Environmental justice: Beecher could also benefit from the environmental justice efforts that are taking place in the Flint area and beyond. Environmental justice is the fair treatment and meaningful involvement of all people in the development, implementation, and enforcement of environmental laws, regulations, and policies. Environmental justice seeks to address the disproportionate impacts of environmental hazards and risks on low-income and minority communities, such as Beecher. Some of the environmental justice efforts that could help Beecher are:
- The Flint Registry, a voluntary and confidential program that connects people who were impacted by the Flint water crisis to health, education, and other services. The registry also collects information and data to better understand and address the long-term effects of the crisis.
- The Flint Water Settlement, a proposed $641.25 million settlement that would resolve legal claims arising from the Flint water crisis. The settlement, which is pending court approval, would provide compensation to eligible claimants, such as residents, property owners, businesses, and children who were exposed to lead and other contaminants in their water.
- The Michigan Clean Water Plan, a $500 million plan that was announced by Governor Gretchen Whitmer in 2020. The plan would invest in drinking water, wastewater, and stormwater infrastructure across the state, and would prioritize environmental justice and public health. The plan would also support the replacement of lead service lines, the removal of PFAS and other emerging contaminants, and the prevention of sewer overflows and beach closures.
Beecher is a city that faces many challenges, such as poverty, low home values, low income, and high drug-induced mortality. These challenges make it the worst place to live in Michigan, according to a recent study by 24/7 Wall St. However, Beecher also has many strengths, such as a strong sense of community, a high-performing school district, and a community action agency. Beecher could also benefit from the various initiatives and opportunities that are taking place in the Flint area and beyond, such as community engagement, economic development, and environmental justice. Beecher is not the worst place to live in Michigan because of its people, but because of the circumstances that they have faced and continue to face. By addressing these circumstances, Beecher could become a better place to live for its residents and for the state.