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Blight Busting

One of the most well-known things about the city of Detroit is its abandoned homes. Well, over the past week, there have been two major changes that may improve that situation.

First, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development on Thursday gave Michigan a $223 million grant to solve some of the housing issues long haunting the city. According to The Detroit Free Press, "the money will be used to acquire thousands of foreclosed, abandoned and blighted properties in targeted areas throughout Michigan, which had the eighth highest foreclosure rate in the nation last year. About 1,500 would be rehabilitated, 2,500 demolished and 4,650 placed in land banks, which erase liens on property to compile land for future development."

Then, Mayor Dave Bing and his staff said in a Detroit News article today that they're going to go after those who fail to pay the city for demolishing their empty buildings. The most expensive tear-downs belong to those with office or apartment buildings, the paper said.

According to the News, "the new system -- to start in February -- would send property owners invoices for work. If they don't pay after 90 days, collection agencies working for commissions would pursue the debt. If the debt is big enough, the law department could get involved and file a lawsuit."

"The status quo of how we've been addressing this no longer works. We need to send a message it's not OK anymore," said Karla Henderson, the city's new director of Buildings and Safety Engineering.

Granted, there are skeptics already as to whether the city will hold true to its word and actually go after the scalawags who refuse to pay their bills. But from what I can tell about Dave Bing (and especially after reading the awesome piece about him in Sports Illustrated) it seems our fine new mayor is a man of his word. Scalawags, beware.

As an aside, the city told the News there are no plans to use the Fed's money to raze the infamous Michigan Central Depot. I think we all have hopes that somehow that glorious building can live on.

Check out the map where the major demolitions are going to happen. This could be major for Detroit if all the players get it going, we recoup some of the money for older demos and then apply it to other spots. If I won a huge Lotto jackpot, I've always said I'd donate as much as I could to Detroit to tear down the blight. Maybe HUD feels the same way. Go, bulldozers, go!

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