Detroit offers plywood for residents to board up vacant houses

Vacant houses are eyesores and places for crime.

In some Detroit neighborhoods, residents are taking things into their own hands - but the city is helping out. 

As Detroit continues to recover from bankruptcy status, officials say they do not have the budget to send crews to board up these vacant homes.

"But that does not stop city of Detroit from finding creative ways to assist residents and community groups to help get things done," said Stephanie Young, the District 1 manager, Department of Neighborhoods.

So the city came up with its Community Board-Up Program.

"By partnering with local community groups the mayor said 'If I'm able to get boards for these groups, will that help them?'" Young said. "Absolutely."

Enter North Rosedale Park. Residents say squatters made a vacant house on Sunderland their home.

"The block captain had identified this property as a problem," said Chelsea Neblett, of the Grandmont Rosedale Development Corporation. "So (we) contacted the Department of Neighborhoods to secure boards to board up the home."

And that's where people like community resident Fred Russell come in. 

Once the community group gets the plywood, residents volunteer their time to board up the home like the one on Sunderland. 

City officials say that so far 125 houses have been boarded up, using 600-700 sheets of plywood.

"If you keep the neighborhood looking welcoming and it is nice and clean, you eliminate lot of the crime," said Russell, of the vacant property task force.

City officials say if neighborhood groups are in need of plywood, fill out an application. Residents should hear back in one or two days and receive the plywood in less than two weeks. 

"As long as we have 7 to 10 days notification, we're able to get these boards," Young said.

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