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detroit blight

Detroit demo blitz linked to rising lead levels in children

Nov 14, 2017
measuring lead paint levels
Joel Kurth / Bridge Magazine

Lead levels among Detroit children are rising after decades of decline, and health officials say the city’s aggressive housing demolition program is partially to blame.

The city has razed nearly 13,000 homes since Mike Duggan was elected mayor in 2013. 

City takes lead on boarding up vacant Detroit homes

Aug 10, 2017
Workers board up a vacant home in southwest Detroit.
Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

Abandoned homes are a familiar sight in many Detroit neighborhoods. And they aren’t just an eyesore. Left unsecured, those vacant properties can become magnets for crime.

But a new city program is hoping to change that.

Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan says for years, the work of boarding up vacant homes fell to volunteers.

"The city would deliver plywood for free on the weekends, and the neighbors would volunteer,” he said at a press conference announcing Detroit's recently launched “board-up brigade.” 

Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

One of the big issues in Detroit is blight. People walking away from their properties or foreclosures are the base of the problem. After that, it’s people stealing things out of the empty house.

Some neighborhoods have been devastated by abandoned homes and the scrappers who strip them. The MorningSide neighborhood on Detroit’s east side hasn’t hit the level of devastation, but it’s been hit pretty hard.

Money
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

The city of Detroit could soon be independent of financial oversight.

According to its Comprehensive Annual Financial Report, Detroit ended the 2016 fiscal year with its second consecutive balanced budget, and a $62.9 million surplus.

John Hill, the city’s chief financial officer, says that if the city can end the 2017 fiscal year with another balanced budget, it will be more in control of its financial future.

Under Mayor Mike Duggan, Detroit has used federal anti-blight funds for an aggressive demolition campaign.
Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

Detroit’s rapid-fire demolition campaign under Mayor Mike Duggan was rife with questionable bidding practices and lacked major internal controls, according to state and federal reviews of that program.

That revelation emerged Monday, as the city announced the U.S. Treasury had released another $42 million in federal funds for the program.

But that funding had been suspended for two months, as the treasury department reviewed a Michigan State Housing Development Authority investigation.

New online map tracks demolition in Detroit

Jun 17, 2016
Abandoned house in Detroit
sj carey / Creative Commons http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

Detroit residents have a new way to check when blighted and vacant homes in their neighborhood will be demolished.

People can enter an address on the Demolition Tracker map on the city's website to see if and when a blighted building is scheduled for demolition.

Structures set to be demolished are represented by orange dots that turn blue after the structure is torn down.

Michigan to receive $188M for blight removal efforts

Apr 20, 2016
Jarrad Henderson / Detroit Free Press

 Michigan will receive $188.1 million in additional federal money to aid the removal of blight in neighborhood around the state, members of Michigan's Congressional delegation announced Wednesday.

The money comes from the Hardest Hit Fund, a program that was originally intended to help people facing foreclosure stay in their homes. But that money has since been steered into blight removal. With the addition of the funds announced today, Michigan has now received more than $262 million from the fund this year.

Stephen Harlan / flickr creative commons http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

Detroit mayor Mike Duggan announced plans today to recruit more Detroit-based, minority contractors for the city's expanding blight-removal efforts.

Duggan wants them to help meet increased demand for home demolition and rehabilitation in the city's neighborhoods.

Duggan announced several upcoming fairs to connect contractors with opportunities. The first will be held on May 13 at the Northwest Activities Center at 18100 Meyers Road.

One of many abandoned structures in Detroit
flickr user Stephen Harlan / http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

The Next Idea

Michigan is all too familiar with the sight of abandoned buildings. Detroit is one of the most significant examples, where hundreds of millions of dollars are being spend on demolition.

Rex LaMore wonders whether we can’t save taxpayers the cost of abandonment by planning for the end of a building’s life from the very beginning. LaMore is director of Michigan State University’s Center for Community and Economic Development, and he’s looking at ways to address Michigan’s glut of abandoned buildings.

Joe Gruber

Katrina Watkins stood on her front porch in Detroit’s McDougall-Hunt neighborhood staring at the vacant, overgrown stretch of land across the street.

“I have been trying to get the city out here to cut this for years,” she said.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Michigan may soon apply for tens of millions of dollars in federal funding to tear down blighted homes.

Michigan U.S. Senators Debbie Stabenow and Gary Peters met with Congressman Dan Kildee in Flint today to discuss the transfer of $2 billion into the federal Hardest Hit Fund.

Peters says the evidence that this program works is “overwhelming”.

“Whenever you knock down blighted homes in a neighborhood, those property values stabilize. Those properties go up in value.  People move back into the neighborhood,” says Peters.