Long-disused factories, rotting warehouses, and weed-infested and abandoned gas stations plague many neighborhoods in Michigan cities like Flint, Saginaw, Detroit, and Muskegon.
And when the original builder can't be found - or has declared bankruptcy - taxpayers are often left paying the bill to tear the dangerous structures down.
Why not make companies buy "blight insurance" policies to prevent that from happening in the future? That's the proposal in a new report by Michigan State University researcher Rex LaMore.
He heads the University's Center for Community and Economic Development.
LaMore acknowledges comes a few decades late for the blight that infests cities now, "but hopefully we will have learned from that and offer our children and grandchildren an alternative future that doesn't continue this pattern of abandonment."
He says demanding companies buy blight insurance might also change their building practices to be more renewable, as well as their business practices, because insurance for a company that is creating a toxic waste situation would be more expensive than insurance for a company that is behaving in an environmentally responsible way.