Detroit Man Walks

Northern Virginia Affordable Housing Alliance

Photo by Ryan Garza, Detroit Free Press

The plight of James Robertson, the Detroit man who walked 21 miles each day to get to his job has gone viral and created an outpouring of generosity and support from people across the country. But as this article notes, it’s easy to miss the underlying subtext about the disinvestment in community infrastructure – it happens in a lot of places across the country, and it has a profound impact on thousands of people. 

To maintain communities that are vibrant and resilient, we must support coordinated planning that provides reliable transportation options with housing that is affordable. Otherwise we continue to create a situation where people who are unemployed or underemployed cannot get to the jobs that do exist, and continue to be locked out of opportunities to obtain housing that they could afford.

Detroit may be a special case that took 40 years in the making. But the elements that led to Robertson’s situation in Detroit exist in many places, including Northern Virginia — isolated communities; an unwillingness to invest in or expand reliable public transportation, and a continuing divide between those who have access to a metro or bus line, and everyone else. 


Michelle Krocker

Executive Director

Northern Virginia Affordable Housing Alliance (NVAHA)