Vacant land lease program allows residents to reduce Detroit blight

Residents can soon lease vacant lots as part of a new plan by Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan. 

Lorenza Brewster is passionate about his Morningside community - that's why he took the initiative to cut weed-infested grass on a vacant lot in his neighborhood.

"It's your neighborhood so why shouldn't try to do that?" said Brewster.

But a new plan is in the works to make vacant lots that are eyesores available to the public through the community lease-a-lot program. 

City officials say it will help eliminate blight and increase resident involvement in their community. 

"The plan is pretty simple $25 a year on a three year lease for a parcel like this," said Craig Fahle, of the Detroit Land Bank Authority. "And you have to get approval from your block club about what you like to do that way we know the neighborhood has brought into plan."

Jackie Grant represents the Morningside Community Association. Her group plans to lease the lot through the program when it officially starts. But, they're getting a jump start on transforming the space into a play area for neighborhood kids.

"I think it's great cause $25 is doable for almost anybody," said Grant. "You don't have to have deep pockets and you can have some influence on what's on these lots." 

City officials say they want to run the plan by city council for approval but hope to have the lease a lot program available to the public by summer. For more information go to buildingdetroit.org

Some question why the city would not sell all these lots and use the profits to help with the city's budget - but city leaders have a response for that.

Fahle says there are thousands of side lots available for purchase to eligible buyers but when there's no buyer available the city feels the lease program is the answer.

"Maybe there's a couple of lots that someone is not eligible to buy why would we let that sit vacant when there is not a huge demand," said Fahle. 

But Brewster says there's a huge interest in the lease program and he already has some ideas for the vacant lots in his neighborhood, such as providing picnic tables and a barbecue area for a neighborhood party. 

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