Detroit woman leads charge against neighborhood blight

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A Detroit woman says she's had enough of all the blight in her neighborhood, so she's taking matters into her own hands.

Lisa Bednarz has become a one-woman cleanup crew picking up trash and debris around more than 50 vacant properties daily.

"There was stuff hanging out the doors and windows, it was ridiculous," said volunteer Andre Tinsley II.

Two people who have seen enough.

"The rats, that house over there has them coming out in herds," Bednarz said.

More than enough.

"You don't know who is up in the houses being dragged in here," she said.

They have had enough of waiting on the home-owners, the city to take action take three homes in a row in the 1700 block of Fenton for example.

"It's so much to do that I don't want it to take away from the rest of the neighborhood," Bednarz said.

With little more than a pair of gloves, and a garbage bag they've spent weeks cleaning up.

"She said come on out and help me, I get here and I'm like, are you serious?" Tinsley said.

That's how Lisa Bednarz recruited the first of what she hopes is many more, trying to stop a blight cancer that's prone to spreading in neighborhoods like this and wiping out whatever beauty is left.

Things are so bad, even the sidewalk has seemingly given up. But these two haven't these three homes are just the tip of the iceberg. They take care of 51 others in this neighborhood alone.

A roughly two-mile stretch of Telegraph to Salem Street and McNichols to Grand River is her turf.  And like a job, she clocks in.

"Every morning I drive up and down these streets to see what's going on," she said.
The payment is progress. For over a year now she's seen some real change, breaking down a blueprint for anyone that wants in - starting block by block.

"A certain block have one block captain and let me know what is it you need to make your block a good place to live," she said.

The trick is getting people to buy what she's selling.

"They want to see if they put in the work that it is going to last," Tinsley said.

And it's hard to argue with someone like Bednarz is doing the work with a steel rod in her back and a knee in need of surgery and the other foot in a cast.

"I'm still going and if I can get this done, anyone can," she said.