The City of Detroit’s blight removal program will now expand into even more neighborhoods, thanks to $42 million in additional funding approved by the US Treasury and Michigan State Housing Development Authority. The Treasury Department approved the allocation the last week of April and MSHDA gave its approval on May 3.
To date, the city has been allocated $170 million in federal blight removal funds, including this newest round. So far, the city has used those funds to demolish more than 8,600 vacant buildings since January 2014. The city plans to take down 5,000 vacant structures this year and 6,000 next year, Mayor Mike Duggan said.
The MSHDA approval brings with it the ability for the city to expand its demolition program boundaries to include more city neighborhoods. The Detroit Land Bank had submitted a formal request on March 1 to MSHDA to further expand the boundaries in the city where federal “hardest hit” blight removal funds can be spent.
The City of Detroit’s demolition program is largest in the nation, but now, thanks to the latest round of funding, the city expects to add more than 2,600 houses to its demolition list. More important, with the newly approved boundary expansion, more than 1,200 will take place in neighborhoods where Federal dollars previously were not allowed to be used. Thousands more Detroiters will now benefit from strategic blight removal in their neighborhoods.
Gloria Sykes, who lives in the Midwest neighborhood near Livernois and Chicago, said she and her neighbors are excited that their neighborhood is part of the expanded HHF zones.
“This is great news for our neighborhood and the families here,” she said. “I want to be out in the yard and enjoy life, but seeing blight all around you gets depressing. This will help us. We are excited to work with the Mayor on improving our neighborhood.”
Demolitions are part of a much broader anti-blight strategy underway in Detroit. Property auctions, nuisance abatement agreements, and community partner sales have led to over 1,400 properties being renovated in neighborhoods across the city. Nearly 4,000 vacant side lots have been sold to neighbors and been put back to use. And aggressive anti-foreclosure efforts have kept tens of thousands of families from losing their homes and becoming vacant.
The city’s demolition program is having a positive impact in ways that go beyond removing blight. A 2015 report from Dynamo Metrics and Rock Ventures found that home demolitions have been responsible for increased property values in Detroit neighborhoods. It found the valuation of homes within 500 feet of an HHF demolition increased by an estimated 4.2 percent, or more than $209 million citywide. In neighborhoods where all aspects of the city’s blight removal program are in effect, the increase in property values has been even greater.
The city anticipates more good news on the demolition front, as the State of Michigan was recently awarded another $188 million from the U.S. Treasury’s Hardest Hit Program. An announcement of Detroit’s share of that award should be coming in the next several weeks.
“We are so grateful to our partners at MSHDA and the US Treasury Department for their continued display of confidence in our city’s blight removal efforts,” Mayor Duggan said. “I am very proud of the work being done by our demolition team at the Land Bank and Detroit Building Authority.”
When the original federally-designated zones were approved in 2013, only 21% of Detroiters lived in neighborhoods eligible for federally funded demolition. However, Mayor Duggan successfully lobbied to have those zones expanded.
Thanks to MSHDA’s approval of the third expansion of our HHF boundaries, 90% of Detroit residents now live in neighborhoods where the city can demolish dangerous and abandoned buildings.