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  • Here is why landlords could do well in Wayne County

    CNN has a message to all prospective landlords: Head to Wayne County! Occupancy and rental rates are increasing, the report says, creating an opportunity for serious returns on investments. In fact, after comparing the median sales price of homes to average monthly rents in nearly 1,600 counties, RealtyTrac found that Detroit’s Wayne County offers landlords the best return on their investment in the nation. Investors who buy homes in the metro area can expect a 30% gross annual return from rents. That’s triple the national average of 10%. RealtyTrac, an online real estate information company, says the county offers investors low prices for larger homes — with a median price of $45,000. “We’ve got some steals here,” said Rachel Saltmarshall, a real estate agent and immediate past president of the Detroit Association of Realtors, told CNN. “There’s a six-bedroom, 6,000 square-foot home in a historic district selling for $65,000.” For more, read the entire report here.

    The post Here is why landlords could do well in Wayne County appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • The Record Store Day Guide for metro Detroit

    This Saturday, audiophiles across the world will venture out to their favorite independent record stores in search of limited releases that quickly become collectors items. The third Saturday of April marks the fairly new international holiday Record Store Day. There are certainly dos and don’ts to know for RSD — like where to shop, and how to shop. That’s right, there is an etiquette to shopping on Record Store Day and violating that code makes you look like a real asshole. In my experience of celebrating Record Store Day, I’ve seen stores use a few different tactics as far as stocking the special releases. Some establishments will set up a table, somewhere in the store, where a few shoppers at a time can flip through records in a calm and contained manner. Other places will have a similar setup, with all the releases at a table, but shoppers ask the store employees for the releases they want. It’s like a record nerd stock exchange. This process gets loud, slightly confusing and incredibly annoying — this is where elbows start getting thrown. Then, there are places that put the releases on the shelves, usually categorized by size — twelve inches with the twelve inches, seven inches with the seven inches and […]

    The post The Record Store Day Guide for metro Detroit appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • City Slang: DEMF 2014 canceled

    The Detroit Electronic Music Festival, which was supposed to be making a triumphant return this year, has been canceled. A statement on the website says that the festival will be back in 2015. Back in November, Ford Field hosted an announcement party for DEMF, where it was revealed that a new DEMF festival would take place at Campus Martius Park in Detroit over the July 4th weekend. “I’m proud to be involved in the biggest and best electronic music festival in the world,” said Juan Atkins. “The future’s here. This is techno scene.” Not the immediate future, apparently. The DEMF people claim that the M-1 rail construction is partially to blame for the cancellation/12-month-postponement. Read the full statement here. Follow @City_Slang

    The post City Slang: DEMF 2014 canceled appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • Metro Times wins heavy at the SPJ Awards

    Despite a turbulent 2013 which saw Metro Times change owners, move buildings and change editors twice, we picked up eight awards at the Society of Professional Journalists Awards on Wednesday night. The big winner was Robert Nixon, design manager, who picked up a first place for “Feature Page Design (Class A)” for our Josh Malerman cover story, first for “Cover Design (Class A)” for our Halloween issue (alongside illustrator John Dunivant), and a second in that same category for our annual Lust issue. In the news categories, our esteemed former news editor and current contributing writer Curt Guyette won third in “General News Reporting” and third in “Best Consumer/Watchdog” – both Class A – for the Fairground Zero and Petcoke Series respectively. Music & Culture Editor Brett Callwood placed third for his Josh Malerman cover story in the “Best Personality Profile (Class A)” category, and former editor Bryan Gottlieb picked up a couple of Class C awards for “Editorial Writing” and “Headline Writing” (third and second, respectively). We were also pleased to learn that our investigative reporter Ryan Felton won first place and an honorable mention for work published while at the Oakland Press. The MT ship is steady now, […]

    The post Metro Times wins heavy at the SPJ Awards appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • Detroit’s grand bargain still needs Lansing’s approval

    In this week’s Metro Times we took a look at the state legislature’s role in Detroit’s ongoing bankruptcy — in particular, how it must approve a $350 million pledge for the so-called “grand bargain” to remain intact. And, with last night’s announcement of a significant deal between the city and Detroit’s pension boards and retiree groups, the ball is Lansing’s court now. The new deal, first reported by the Freep, would cut general employees monthly pension checks by 4.5 percent and eliminate their cost-of-living increases. Police and fire retirees would see no cuts to monthly checks, while their cost-of-living increases would be reduced from 2.25 percent to 1 percent. Under the original offer, police and fire retirees cuts were as high as 14 percent, with general retirees as high as 34 percent, that is, if the groups rejected the “grand bargain,” an $816 million proposal funded by foundations, the state, and the DIA to shore up pensions. The sweeter deal for pensions, though, it must be noted, entirely relies on the state legislature approving $350 million for Detroit’s bankruptcy.  And while this broke after Metro Times went to press, that was the focal point of this week’s News Hits column — so, it’s worth repeating: The […]

    The post Detroit’s grand bargain still needs Lansing’s approval appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • City Slang: Local releases for Record Store Day on Saturday

    This Saturday, April 19, is Record Store Day, and there is plenty going on in metro Detroit and Michigan. Of special interest to us is Chiodos’ 7” single “R2ME2/Let Me Get You A Towel,” Mayer Hawthorne & Shintaro Skamoto’s 7” “Wine Glass Woman/In a Phantom,” Chuck Inglish & Action Bronson’s 7” “Game Time,” Chuck Inglish & Chance the Rapper’s 7” “Glam,” Chuck Inglish & Chromeo’s 7” “Legs,” Chuck Inglish, Mac Miller & Ab-Soul’s 7” “Easily,” James Williamson’s 7” “Open Up and Bleed/Gimme Some Skin,” Black Milk’s 12” “Glitches in the Break,” Mayer Hawthorne’s 10” “Jaded Inc.,” Wayne Kramer & the Lexington Arts Ensemble’s 12” “Lexington,” and best of all, Ray Parker Jr.’s 10” “Ghostbusters.” We wrote about James Williamson’s release this week. Go shop. Follow @City_Slang

    The post City Slang: Local releases for Record Store Day on Saturday appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.



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Extreme makeover

Meet a woman who can dress just about anyone for success

Photo: Photos: Detroitblogger John, License: N/A

Photos: Detroitblogger John

Alison Vaughn, left, and Betty Henderson.

The teacher has her work cut out for her today.

Betty Henderson's students look as though they'd rather be somewhere else. One girl sits with her eyes closed. Another's cell phone rings, and she eagerly leaps up and leaves the room as she talks to the caller. Others giggle at not-so-funny things at the wrong time. Some have wild colors in their hair, or sport obscene tattoos, or wear dirty gym clothes.

They're in class at Jackets for Jobs, an eastside nonprofit that provides dressy clothing for needy job seekers who don't have a professional outfit to wear for an interview. But the price of getting that free outfit is sitting through this 90-minute lecture on proper job etiquette. Dress clothes will mean nothing if the applicant walks into an interview and begins swearing.

"They don't know how to fill out an application," says Karen Terry, a volunteer here, of the typical clients who come through. "They don't even know how to talk."

There are 16 women in class today, all but a few in their late teens or early 20s. Most are single mothers. Seven of them never graduated high school. Most haven't worked in at least a year or two. Some get fired a lot. A couple of them have never held any job at all.

The little rules of work life that are obvious to others are new to many here. Don't flirt with the interviewer or ask for his phone number, Henderson tells them. Don't lose your temper and start yelling at the interviewer. Don't light a cigarette in the interviewer's office. Don't bring your child to the interview.

"If you couldn't find a babysitter for the interview, what are you going to do when you get the job?" Henderson asks them. The 68-year-old former schoolteacher's tone is motherly but firm. "You've got to have your ducks in a row. I don't care if the kid is 10 or 2. Leave the child at home. Find a babysitter, someone that's responsible."

Woven into the etiquette instructions are segments on improving self-esteem. After years on welfare or without a job, after countless rejections and firings, the staff here find that many of these women have little or no self-confidence.

"A lot of the women, some like myself — homeless, unemployed, single mothers — you're going through these things that you have to go through daily, culminating in how you're feeling as a woman and your emotions," says Terry, 50. "See, people don't address those issues, and here they address those issues as well as give you clothes."

But Henderson faces an uphill battle. In many cases, years of bad habits, poor social skills and street behavior have to be undone, and it's hard to do that in an hour-and-a-half.

"I have students that literally fall asleep, and I know this class is not that boring because you're looking for work," Henderson lectures the students. "This is good stuff for you. You should have a page full of notes by now. You can't say, 'Well I didn't know I couldn't do that.' You need to know this."

The girl with the pink hair giggles.

Alison Vaughn
was a model and flight attendant when 9/11 happened. Airline business dropped off significantly for a while, and she accepted her employer's offer to take a leave of absence.

She had just reunited with a stepsister who had fallen on hard times, was subsisting on assistance checks, and then died six months later of cancer. Seeing her sister trying to survive physically and financially made her want to do something to help women in similar circumstances.

"Every woman that walks through this door, I'm reminded of my sister," says Vaughn, 44. "I want to help them become a better person and get off welfare and be self-sufficient, 'cause some of them have kids and they're trying to make it, and they're struggling."

She started Jackets for Jobs 11 years ago in her apartment with a few outfits to give away, moved to space above a church as the donations started coming in, then found offices in a former hospital building at Connor and Shoemaker.

"I just saw a need in the community," Vaughn says. "It was kind of like a Catch-22. A person was going for an interview, they needed a suit, but they needed a job to get the suit." Once they get a job, they're entitled to two more free outfits.

She estimates that 10,000 people have come to her so far; about two-thirds have succeeded in getting a job, she says. Henderson, Vaughn's mother, joined her early on as the organization's career wardrobe director, as they call it. Most of their clients are women, though they've been expanding their program for men, many of whom are just-released ex-cons.

The Jackets for Jobs offices are laid out like a small department store. Women's business suits are neatly hung on department store racks bought at a Montgomery Ward going-out-of-business sale. Most clothes are new; some still have the tags hanging on them. Clothes and donations come from retailers in the area, from corporations, from individual donors who believe in her mission.

Vaughn's real task, though, is getting the women who come through here to believe it too.

"You feel frustrated because you're trying to get a person to step out of their comfort zone," she says. "And we tell them we know that you're used to wearing miniskirts and tight-fitting clothes, but there's a difference from date wear and daytime wear to interview wear, and so we try to explain the difference. You know, if you're going on a date you can have your cleavage hanging out, but when you're going for a job interview, that is not appropriate at all."

The class
comes to an end, and the students leap up and swarm to the racks of new clothes. Henderson and Vaughn help each one match their outfits properly, pick out clothes that fit, get shoes that the women can walk in gracefully.

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