Detroit to demolish, rehab or board up 25,000 vacant houses

As the rebirth of Detroit continues signs of decay remain.

There are still 25,000 vacant houses in the city but there's now a detailed plan to deal with the problem.

As we know the plan hasn't been perfect but since Mayor Mike  Duggan took office, more than 12,000 homes have been demolished. About 3,000 were rehabbed and reoccupied through the Land Bank. This plan is the most aggressive yet.

"We were afraid some of our student on the way going home would go into the buildings," said Mackenzie Elementary principal Deangelo Alexander.

But not anymore.

Alexander said thanks to Mayor Mike Duggan's aggressive new plan to take care of the remaining dangerous eyesores that line city streets - starting with the two abandoned houses that sit across the street from his school.

"I love it," he said. "For a long time we didn't pay attention to it. We just let it go and talk about it, but something is being done about it."

There are 25,000 vacant homes left in the city. Over the next two years FOX 2 is told 5,000 will be rehabbed and reoccupied.

About 9,000 will be demolished and 11,000 remaining homes will be boarded up.

"It is all about blight removal," said Ray Solomon, Department of Neighborhoods. "It is all about blight removal and blight safety. This is one step closer to do this."

Solomon is the head of Detroit's Department of Neighborhoods and is going to be working with residents to find those problem houses.

The city will then contract with outside organizations, which have not yet been selected to do the actual boarding of houses.

FOX 2: "What do you say to people who say 'I am sick of looking at these houses, boarding up isn't going to help.'"

"Well it's a start," Solomon said. "We started with 40,000 houses and demo’ d 12,000. I mean Detroit did not get here overnight and this is the most aggressive plan we've seen."

Geraldine Smith has lived on Wyoming for more than 40 years and she agrees that it is progress.

"If they (aren't any) good, tear them down," she said. "But right now it's alright to board them up until they tear them down."

The city will foot the bill of $9 million out of the blight removal funds. Starting Aug. 1, crews plans to start boarding up 100 to 200 houses a week. Some will be rehabbed and some secured before they can be eventually torn down.

Houses that Alexander hopes one day will become occupied homes.

"Hopefully they will become available for our parents to possibly move into them," he said. "That's what the hope is."
 

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