As blighted homes still stand, Detroit goes after residents for trash cans

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There are blocks all over Detroit that are abandoned. One of those is on Detroit's west side. House after house after house is left to rot - except for two. Those two homes remain occupied in the middle of the mess while the city has left the others to crumble. Finally, the city is taking some action: they're going after the lone survivors for leaving their trash cans in the front of their house.

Latoya Bowers' 88-year-old grandmother lives on Milford on the city's west side. Bowers said there are just two homes left on the block and it used to be a nice neighborhood but not anymore. The elderly Detroiter has tried for years to get the blighted homes torn down.

"We were told they are on the list. I'm not sure how long the list is but, as you can see, they are still standing," Bowers said.

The homes on that street are in disrepair. They're dilapidated and decaying and are a breeding ground for pests, prostitution, and problems. But those aren't the priorities, apparently.

A citation warning from the city is equating a misplaced trash can with blight. According to the city, if you put your trash can behind your fence gate, you're fine. But if it's just two feet in front - on the other side of the gate - you'll get a citation.

Just ask Bowers' grandmother; the 88-year-old got the warning and gave her a deadline of 48 hours to fix the problem.

"You're giving her so many days to get this taken care of. How about you move those houses in that many days?" Bowers said.

The city says the blighted homes fall outside areas that can use federal demolition funds. However, FOX 2 was told those areas are increasing and in fact the 3 blighted homes on that block are slated for demolition this year.

The tickets and warnings were part of a routine sweep, according to the city, and they prefer to issue warnings instead of tickets.

The only other person on the block, Cliff Calloway, didn't get a warning. He got a a ticket two weeks ago for the exact same offense.

"Now you have to miss a days work, pay $130 plus parking, that's really a bite," Calloway said it's a bit insulting to get blamed for blight compared to what he lives next to. "Why aren't we addressing the bigger issue rather than coming down on the little people over something so trivial as a trash can," Calloway said.

Like his neighbor all they want to see is some action. A show of faith for what they see as keeping up their end of the bargain.