DETROIT (AP) - Michigan is eligible for $323 million in federal funds to allow cities to demolish vacant structures and remove other forms of blight.
The state will get about $74.5 million immediately and must apply for the rest. The money from the federal Hardest Hit Fund was announced Friday by U.S. Rep. Dan Kildee and U.S. Sens. Debbie Stabenow and Gary Peters.
The trio helped lead an effort to allow the Treasury Department to transfer $2 billion to the Hardest Hit Fund.
The $74.5 million is part of $1 billion headed to 18 states and the District of Columbia. States have to apply by March for a share of the remaining $1 billion, but will not be able to apply for more than either $250 million or half of the money they have already received from the fund. Announcements on how much each state will receive are expected in April.
"Millions of dollars in additional federal funds will make a huge difference in removing blight across Michigan, including in Flint and Saginaw," said Kildee, who represents Michigan's 5th Congressional District. "Getting rid of blight will help to raise property values, decrease crime and unlock greater opportunity for all homeowners."
Since 2010, 16 Michigan cities used $440 million from the Hardest Hit Fund to provide homeowner assistance, remove blight and support other efforts to revitalize neighborhoods.
Michigan divided more than $75 million in late 2014 among 12 cities, with Detroit getting $50 million.
"Blight removal is making a real difference by making neighborhoods safe and spurring economic growth," Stabenow said. "Thousands of blighted properties have already been demolished and this funding will keep this momentum going."
The money is for residential blight removal and can't be used to replace old pipes in Flint homes where lead has leached into the drinking water, Kildee spokesman Mitchell Rivard told The Associated Press Friday in an email.
Flint stopped using treated water from Detroit and switched to the Flint River in 2014 to save money when the city was under state emergency financial management, an interim measure while a new pipeline to Lake Huron is built. Failure to deploy corrosion controls after the switch enabled lead to leach from aging pipes and reach some Flint homes.
Tests have shown high levels of lead in some Flint children.
Gov. Rick Snyder wants service line replacements to begin promptly and has said his goal is to have old pipes replaced.