Some students, staff call area near Puritan home — and like it

In the neighborhoods beyond the gated grounds of Detroit Mercy, people – including some who work and attend Detroit Mercy – live and go about their day-to-day routines.

And despite what some may say and think about the blocks south of campus along Puritan and west of Livernois, the neighborhoods are not dangerous disasters, according to people who have lived there.

“As the old saying goes, don’t judge a book by its cover,” said Detroit Mercy alum Tiara Harvey. “Detroit isn’t as bad as people think.”

She blames the news media for giving people the wrong perception.

“A lot of people prejudge Detroit and how the city is solely from the news because all they highlight is the crime and how the city is so poverty stricken,” Harvey said. “But that’s not all true. Everybody in my neighborhood looked out for each other . Everybody knew each other and it was just very family oriented.”

Harvey grew up in Pilgrim Village, right off John C Lodge freeway. She admits that the neighborhood isn’t the same as it used to be.

“Crime has definitely increased since I was a kid,” she said. “Businesses have also dropped much more because of the economy and location. But that’s what happens with some neighborhoods. Some improve and some don’t.”

However, Harvey doesn’t let the downgrade of her neighborhood upset her. She instead hopes the people in the community will come together and make the neighborhood what is was once again.

That may be where people like Karl Ericson come into the picture.

Ericson is an assistant librarian at Detroit Mercy, and he lives literally two minutes from campus, in Martin Park.

“I love my neighborhood and I love that I live close to where I work. That’s a huge plus for me,” he said.

Ericson is from Lansing, and has lived all over Michigan, but he said Detroit is probably one of the best places he’s lived.

“I started here in the fall of 2012 and I was looking for a house everywhere in Detroit, and was fortunate enough to find a house in a nice neighborhood with all the amenities I was looking for,” said Ericson.

He said he had a lot of hate and negativity thrown at him when he told people he had decided to live in Detroit.

“I remember them saying all these bad things about the city and what’s going to happen to me if I move there,” he recalled. “These were all misconceptions I had to get rid of. My kids even feel it when they go to school and tell their classmates, ‘My dad lives in Detroit.’ ”

(Ericson’s kids live in Northville with their mother.)

Ericson admits that he had his own concerns at first.

“There are things I’ve heard about the city as far as crime but a lot of that I had to get over,” he said. “Plus I have automatic privilege being a white male, and that does make a difference.”

It’s different for senior Jeffrey Lane.

Lane grew up behind the school, off of Dexter and Puritan, and plans not to be there for much longer.

“I’ve been living over here my whole life,” he said. “This is actually my grandma’s house and she gave it to me when she died. My parents live in West Bloomfield, but I don’t really like it out there. I love my city.”

Lane said that one day he hopes to make it to the other side of Six Mile, in the big houses. That area, near Gesu Church, is known as the University District. It is home to some professors, city officials, judges and other professionals.

“That’s always been my dream, to make it over there,” he said. “It’s just a different vibe and a totally different distinction between there and here.”

Lane said he sees a class divisions at work.

“People that live over there usually have a good job and are established in their life and that’s how I’m trying to be,” he said. “I’m a soon-to-be college graduate and I just can’t live in the hood anymore. My mindset is different.”

However, Lane said that he’s grateful for his upbringing in the neighborhood, as it taught him a lot about the world and people.

“To be honest, man, Detroit’s not a bad place,” Lane said. “We just like any other city. We got the good and the bad and I hope one day people will see that.”