The City of Detroit is taking on an ambitious project to tackle abandoned homes by boarding up 15,000 properties. In less than two months, they're already making a lot of progress.
The Board Up Brigade does exactly what you would think: boarding up Detroit's blighted homes in teams of 5 or 6.
"We are now at 200 homes a week," said project manager Crystal Perkins. "It's not going to stop everything but it will deter it. Because if you see a structure that is boarded, you're less likely to try to enter it because it's going to take more time to get in."
The goal is to lock down all of the empty homes so criminals won't have such easy places to hide or steal from. Since the plan was announced in August, they've already boarded up 1,000.
"We've had a history of crimes. people going in the house and snatching people in the house. We just trying to bring down the blight," Andrew Jones said.
But the group doesn't just board up and ask questions later. They first check the landscape and clear out the weeds. Then they go inside to make sure there isn't any illegal dumping going on there. They put trash on the curb for the city to take it away and then they board it up. Neighbors say it's already making a big difference.
"If you take pride in your neighborhood and your surroundings, it's going to be beautiful. It was like that for me when I was a kid and I want that same thing now," Yorkshire Woods Neighborhood Association VP Byron Spivey said.
Spivey says he used to do the work himself but now that the city's behind the effort, it means a lot.
"Something to let people know, hey you can come back," Spivey said.
Most of the workers on the Board Up Brigade are reentering the workforce with a criminal record. the project gives them a job and a sense of purpose as well.
"They are looking to give back. We took a day and rode through the neighborhoods after they boarded up and they felt good about what they did," Perkins said.
The hope is to preserve the homes so one day, they can be sold rather than torn down.