DETROIT — Gov. Rick Snyder today kicked off the largest residential blight removal effort in state history at a news conference that featured the simultaneous demolition of five blighted and abandoned houses in a Detroit neighborhood.
The governor announced in June the U.S. Treasury-approved program — the first of its kind in the nation — that allows the Michigan State Housing Development Authority to use $100 million of its Hardest Hit Fund allocation for blight elimination.
Today’s demolition near the University of Detroit-Mercy campus kicked off the campaign aimed at reducing foreclosures and stabilizing neighborhoods. It will reduce the number of vacant and abandoned properties in Detroit and four other Michigan cities: Flint, Grand Rapids, Pontiac and Saginaw.
“Neighborhoods are the fabric of our cities,” Snyder said. “They must be strong and vibrant so our urban communities can thrive. Michigan’s aggressive and innovative blight reduction plan will help to stem the decay that often accompanies abandoned buildings. This local, state and federal partnership shows that we’re serious about revitalizing our cities. By encouraging residents who live in these neighborhoods to remain in their homes, we will rejuvenate our urban areas block by block.”
The governor announced last week that Detroit will receive $52.3 million in anti-blight funding; Flint will get $20.1 million; Saginaw $11.2 million;Pontiac $3.7 million, and Grand Rapids $2.5 million. About $10.2 million will be reserved to tear down additional abandoned properties that may become eligible during the pilot program and for unanticipated costs.
“Today’s event is an important step toward revitalizing Detroit and preserving its status as one of America’s greatest cities,” said U.S. Treasury Under Secretary Miller. “Treasury remains committed to supporting Michigan’s homeowners. Abandoned and blighted homes depress surrounding home values and strain community resources, but this innovative program will reduce foreclosures and revitalize neighborhoods.”
Locally based demolition companies and work crews started the Detroit campaign today and will continue for months, tearing down about 4,000 vacant properties. Flint, Grand Rapids, Pontiac, and Saginaw are expected to begin their respective programs in September. MSHDA estimates at least 7,000 blighted structures will be razed during the program.
“MSHDA and our partners in the state’s five hardest-hit cities have assembled the best local, technical experts in the areas of urban demolition, data analytics and redevelopment,” said MSHDA Executive Director Scott Woosley. “We could not have moved forward on this initiative without the governor’s strong leadership and support from our federal, state and local partners. By working together at the ground level, we will reverse the challenges caused by blight.”
Michigan’s $100 million anti-blight campaign comes from $500 million the state was allocated in 2010 as part of the Troubled Asset Relief Program’s Hardest Hit Fund, designed to help homeowners in states hit hardest by the housing crisis.
Joining the governor and Miller to speak in support of the program today were: U.S. Sen. Carl Levin, U.S. Rep. John Dingell, U.S. Rep. Gary Peters, U.S. Rep. Dan Kildee, state Rep. Thomas Stallworth III, Detroit City Council President Saunteel Jenkins, and Detroit Police Chief James Craig.