Flint to demolish more houses to fight blight

Oct 12, 2010

More houses are coming down in Flint. Kristin Longley reports in the Flint Journal that 174 houses will come down by December 31st. That's on top of the 125 houses city crews are expected to take down by the end of the year.

Flint union leader Sam Muma says city crews can't take down all the homes scheduled for demolition:

"There's no way the crews I represent, the city employees, can handle all that. We have a situation quite unique in our time."

If your looking for an example of urban blight in America, Flint, Michigan is a poster child. It's lost almost half its population over the last fifty years.

Instead of living with the shell of city that once was, officials are trying to revive it by shrinking it.

They want to tear down decaying neighborhoods and concentrate people and businesses in viable ones. The state created a program called Cities of Promise to assist with demolition and revitalization efforts.

Dan Kildee is the Genesee County treasurer. He's also the chair of the board for  the Genesse County Land Bank. The Bank has established a national model for moving abandoned houses out of the legal limbo they're often caught in. Once the house titles are cleared,

In a 2009 New York Times article, Kildee says it's better to control the decline, than to let it control you:

“If it’s going to look abandoned, let it be clean and green. Create the new Flint forest — something people will choose to live near, rather than something that symbolizes failure.”

The city relies on grant money to help with these demolitions. A shrinking city means a shrinking tax base.