Mike's Take: Detroit blight removal must be priority

By Mike Renda, FOX 2 General Manager

In the past few months Mayor Mike Duggan has said that Detroit will run out of money this summer for the fight against blight.

This should be alarming to everyone who cares about this city and it marks a dramatic change from former Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr's bankruptcy plan. 

Orr's plan targeted more than $500 million over the next several years to aggressively reduce the number of residential structures in the city. 

Neighborhood after neighborhood devastated by the scourge of blight make it clear while every city needs more revenues for infrastructure and public safety, Detroit has a special circumstance.

We are defined by our overwhelming blight. I believe without a long-term strategy to remove the blight across our neighborhoods, it will continue to strangle every effort to emerge from the years of mismanagement and corruption. 

If you don't remove the blight, Detroit does not move forward. But Mayor Duggan and the city council have made the choice to steer more of the city's precious dollars into other important categories. Like hiring more police officers and firefighters. Getting more streetlights fixed and bolstering basic city services at the expense of a full commitment to blight removal.

The mayor is counting on a real long shot. Using surpluses from the city budget and pursuing additional federal money to come up with the estimated $500 million the city will need. 

Former Pittsburgh Mayor Tom Murphy, now with the Urban Land Institute, argues that it is way too risky to count on federal funding for a long-term blight removal strategy. 

I agree.

The mayor and city council must get the city priorities in the right order. The first step must be to eliminate the chronic blight in our city. Then, fully restore dollars to public safety and streetlights.

Let's send a message to Mayor Duggan and council. Make blight removal in the city's neighborhoods the top budget priority and confirm the commitment to end the chronic blight that has defined Detroit.

We would like to know your thoughts about the blight issue. Contact us on our Facebook Page https://www.facebook.com/WJBKFox2Detroit

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