July 19, 2013 -- Detroit became the largest city in the United States to file for bankruptcy on Thursday. Motor City, once a bastion of American industrialism, has more than $18 billion in accrued obligations, ABC News reported.
That basically means the city can't raise enough money to pay its debts. That could leave some of the city's residents in a bind. While creditors -- the people the city owes -- will challenge the filing, the road to any resolution will be long and messy.
Here are five ways Detroit's bankruptcy filing could impact citizens who live in the struggling metropolis.
1. Closed public offices. Some government staffs will shut down for mandatory furlough days. They include everything from the city council to recreation centers, human resources to the mayor's office. People who need city services will face limited hours.
2. Cuts to retiree pensions and worker benefits. The city is responsible for paying worker and retiree benefits to current and former city servants. A bankruptcy filing could reduce those benefits. Unemployment in the city is more than double the national average, and, as the Washington Post pointed out, per capita income is not quite $15,300. That translates to very little tax revenue. Fewer than half the city's residents over age 16 have jobs.
3. Crime issues. The city has been unable to invest fully in everything from street lights to emergency services, Reuters noted. That's unlikely to change anytime soon, which will leave police struggling to patrol a city that has been beset by crime and violence in recent years. Detroit has the highest crime rate of any major city, and a fraction of its crimes actually get solved.
4. Health issues. The city has scaled back its emergency response services. As Reuters pointed out, just a third of its ambulances were in service in the first quarter of 2013. And according to the Post, the average response time for an emergency call is 58 minutes. That's an awfully long time to wait if you're having a heart attack or have just been shot.
5. Declining property values. This is no surprise, but it's worth pointing out that property values have dropped as the city's stature has declined. People don't want to live in a city with poor services, abandoned buildings, skyrocketing unemployment and high crime. Many of those who can afford it have moved away. The city's population has dropped by more than half to just 706,000 from a high of 1.85 million in 1950.