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This burned-out Flint house will be torn down on Tuesday

Nov 10, 2014

One down, about 9,000 to go.

A Flint ex-patriot's crowd-funding campaign on Indigogo raised more than $11,000 – enough to tear down one of the city's many blighted, abandoned homes.

Freelance writer Gordon Young decided to run the campaign after writing a book about Flint's severe blight problem and its attempt to revitalize itself.

"Flint has roughly 34 square miles," says Young, "and if you took all the abandoned houses and parcels, and scrunched them together, it takes up almost one-third of the city."

That fact was what led him to decide to do a tear-down instead of a rehab, as a way of helping his hometown.

"Four generations of my family grew up in Flint. I had a very happy childhood there. I have a lot of memories of the city," says Young. "I know my way around the entire town. I never get lost there even after all these years. So emotionally, it's painful to see these houses come down. It doesn't feel so great, if that makes sense. But by taking down these houses, you're trying to make sure Flint has a future, and not just the past that everyone remembers."

Gordon says many of the people who contributed to the fundraiser were Flint ex-pats like himself – but some were people from other parts of the country who saw the video about the project by Flint native Alex Benda, and decided to contribute.

The home Gordon settled on is the only abandoned, burned-out house in an otherwise healthy neighborhood of well-kept homes, on Parkbelt Drive.

He says many times, one abandoned property attracts crime, leading other homeowners to abandon their properties, too. 

So he wanted to find a place where he could stop that death spiral.

"This was a block that was doing very well," says Gordon, "with longtime homeowners that were trying to keep the neighborhood from going down that path."

The home has asbestos in it, so the Genesee County Land Bank is picking up the extra cost of getting rid of that, as well as doing the actual demolition.