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Tuesday, November 19, 2019

Detroit City Council scraps Mayor Duggan's $250M demolition proposal

Posted By on Tue, Nov 19, 2019 at 4:20 PM

click to enlarge More than 20,000 vacant houses create blight in Detroit. - STEVE NEAVLING
  • Steve Neavling
  • More than 20,000 vacant houses create blight in Detroit.

In a major blow to Mayor Mike Duggan, the Detroit City Council rejected his $250 million bond proposal Tuesday to eliminate the remaining blight in the city’s neighborhoods.

With a 6-3 vote, the council voted against a ballot initiative that would have let voters decide whether they wanted to support the bond to finance the demolition of roughly 19,000 vacant homes and the renovation of another 8,000 abandoned houses.

The council’s decision comes less than two weeks after a scathing Detroit Auditor General report found major problems with the city’s demolition program. The findings ranged from lack of oversight to shoddy record-keeping.

Previous state and federal investigations also uncovered widespread problems. And some state lawmakers also opposed the plan, saying they are concerned about environmental hazards from demolitions.

Since Duggan took office in 2014, the city has demolished more than 19,000 vacant houses, primarily using $265 million in federal funds. That money has run out. Duggan said the city reached the “halfway point” toward eliminating residential blight.

“For the past five years, residents living outside of the federal boundaries have been asking me when it’s going to be their turn and those have been difficult conversations,” Duggan said in September. “Because these funds will be completely controlled by the city, neighborhoods that have lived with blight for decades will see all of it removed within five years of the bond sale being approved.”

After Tuesday's meeting, Duggan conceded defeat and said he plans to rethink how the city can reduce blight.

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