Detroit Mayor Launches $4.8M Board Up Brigades Program to Address Urban Blight


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Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan has announced a $4.9 million blight removal program.

Photo Courtesy: City of Detroit

Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan today announced a collaborative program with residents from several neighborhoods to board up 11,000 blighted and abandoned house throughout the city over the next two years. The $4.5-million program, part of a $9-million campaign to address urban blight, began in the Boynton neighborhood, where 40 houses have recently been secured.

The securing of empty, and in many cases structurally sound, houses is part of a larger citywide initiative to demolish, rehab, or board up an estimated 25,000 blighted houses that exist throughout Detroit over the next two years. The goal is to secure the houses in the hope of preserving them for rehab as the city’s recovery continues.

The houses being boarded up by what is called the Board Up Brigades are being identified by registered block clubs in the city working with the Mayor’s Department of Neighborhoods. Approximately 150 organizations were asked to submit their requests by Aug. 1, and the lists are being used to develop board up zones, prioritized by the date of request submission. 

“We’ve come far enough as a city to where it’s no longer acceptable for us to simply say ‘wait a few years longer’ to our residents living on the blocks that our blight removal program won’t be able to reach in the short term,” says Mayor Duggan.  “What we are committing to today is that all of the 25,000 blighted abandoned houses that still remain today will be demolished, rehabbed, and reoccupied or secured by one of our Board Up Brigades over the next two years.”

Since Jan. 2014, 12,000 abandoned, vacant houses have been demolished and an additional 3,000 have been rehabbed. The two-year plan to address the remaining 25,000 houses includes demolition of 9,000 homes and for 5,000 houses to be rehabbed through Land Bank Auction and Nuisance Abatement Program.

The City’s General Services Department director Brad Dick expects to have all 10 crews up and running in the next few months.

“By the end of September, we expect to be boarding up 40 houses each week and will double our rate each month until we get up to 200 every week,” says Dick. “So far it’s been going very well and we all very proud of all of our returning citizens who have really inspired all of us.”

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