Detroit's emergency manager, Kevyn Orr, addressed the public Monday evening.
The informational meeting started at 6:30 p.m. at the Wayne State University Law School Auditorium.
About 350 people were on-hand at the start of the Monday evening meeting, which is open to Detroit residents and required under Michigan's Local Financial Stability and Choice Act.
About 250 people were in the room, and about 100 were being kept out because of crowding.
A meeting, scheduled for Friday, between state-appointed Orr, bond debt holders and unions Detroit owes money to will show the city's creditors the depth of its financial collapse.
Orr spokesman Bill Nowling says they have been sent letters to attend Friday's meeting at a hotel at Detroit Metropolitan Airport.
Nowling says the get-together will reveal that the "city is in dire financial straits," but that the meeting is the "first step in righting the course."
Nowling would not confirm or deny that the debt holders will be asked to accept cents on the dollar to forgive some of Detroit's long-term debt.
American Federation of State, County & Municipal Employees Council 25 spokesman Ed McNeil says "nothing good is going to come out of the meeting" for unions.