Detroiters to vote on Proposal N which city says would help blight

As we inch closer to Election Day, all eyes are on the White House but in Detroit, voters will decide on whether or not allow the city to sell a quarter of a billion dollars in Neighborhood Improvement Bonds that the city says will help solve more blight.

Proposal N for Neighborhoods is a plan that the city says will address 16,000 vacant homes in the city by either rehabilitating them or demolishing them. If approved, the city would be able to sell $250 million in Neighborhood Improvement Bonds that Mayor Mike Duggan says would renovate half of those vacant homes and remove 8,000 blighted ones.

"We're going to take 8,000 houses that are structurally sound and we're going to secure them so they can be rehabbed. We're going to save every house we can. Those that can't, we're going to take 8,000 down and we're going to turn the property over to neighbors," Duggan said.

The idea, Duggan says, would be to give the properties to neighbors so they can make parks or gardens or whatever they feel they want for the community.

"For the neighborhoods that we haven't gotten to - that people have been living with the blight, you go to sleep at night worrying the abandoned next store is gonna catch fire and spread to your house," Duggan said.

But this won't likely be an easy vote. 

"The people that we have running the city have, I'm sure - it's my opinion - they have a goal in mind. It doesn't matter to them if the people of the city of Detroit are collateral damage, roadkill," said Agnes Hitchcock.

She lives next to a blighted home on Philadelphia Street and is clear that she doesn't trust the proposal because of the way it was handled by the Duggan administration and Land Bank issues.

"We can use this additional money that they're taking from us to repair our steps. We can use that money to repair our roof. Money has come into the city of Detroit, the hardest hit money that was supposed to help people stay in their homes. That money was flipped over to the demolition department where corruption is rampant," Hitchock said.

The Detroit Land Bank tore down more than 15,000 homes in Detroit which ended in August.

Duggan, however, said past issues are resolved and this issue is different.

"The land bank never should have been in the demolition business. When the federal government gave us $250 million - and I lobbied hard in Washington for that money - the law said you have to run the money through an organization outside the city. It was a dumb provision of the law and the landbank was never prepared to handle demolition. We have since gotten the Land Bank out of demolition, there's a new demolition department run by professionals in the city," he said.

For more information about Proposal N and what the city says it will do with the money, view the resolution here.