Detroit Land Bank Authority tears down last house with federal grant money

The Detroit Land Bank Authority hit a milestone on Friday, August 14, 2020. The grant program that was launched six years ago funded its final demolition.

"We're very excited that we were able to accomplish over 15,000 demos," said Deputy Executive Director Tammy Daniels. A blighted home on Waveney where squatters used to live was the final demo.

"Now that the federal money is gone we at the Land Bank literally have no dollars for demo," Daniels said.

At the height of the program, the Land Bank Authority would demolish sometimes nearly 100 blighted homes a week. But, despite successes, the program faced a federal probe that resulted in criminal charges of two former employees of a demolition firm.

"In a program operating at this scale, there's going to be some problems. This was something that was never done before. We did not have a roadmap so, yes, there were mistakes. And there will continue to be issues," Daniels said.

As the Land Bank demolishes its last house, what happens to the future of demolitions in the city?

"We still have 8,000 properties that need that level of attention and so Proposal N is critically important to finishing the work that we started," she said.

When Detroit residents vote in November, they can support Proposal N (for neighborhoods), a plan to address vacant houses in Detroit through rehabilitation or demolition.

"I think we need it because there's a lot of abandoned houses here in the city because we've got squatters, little kids that could go inside the houses and get hurt," said Stephenie Lee, who lives near the final demolition site.

And if the proposal is not approved?

"Right now we're only budgeted for $9.5 million, and that's really restricting us to emergencies only. And for us, it's even restricting the emergencies," said LaJuan Counts, City of Detroit Demolition Director.

You can read more about Proposal N here.