WUOMFM

More federal blight removal dollars are coming to Michigan

Feb 19, 2016

The state of Michigan is getting tens of millions of dollars from the federal government to tear down blighted buildings.

Blighted buildings, like this one in Saginaw, may soon be torn down as more federal dollars are heading to Michigan
Credit Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Last year, Congress approved spending $2 billion to fund blight elimination programs nationwide. 

The U.S. Department of Treasury today says Michigan is eligible for more than $300 million from the Hardest Hit fund. Nearly $75 million is available immediately.

U.S. Rep. Dan Kildee, D-Flint, has been among those fighting for the blight money.

“While it doesn’t necessarily complete the job, for the people that live in neighborhoods where this money will be spent, it will transform their lives,” says Kildee.

In recent years, Hardest Hit funding has paid for demolishing blighted buildings in Detroit, Flint and other Michigan cities.

Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan is excited about the new funding, although he knows Michigan is not a guaranteed anything yet.

“We now know that there will be a national competition for additional funding based on which states have been successful in putting their current allocations to effective use,” Duggan said in a written statement. “We look forward to the opportunity to compete for this funding based on our track record.”

The Michigan State Housing Development Authority will submit a distribution plan to the U.S. Department of Treasury for approval by March 4.

“We are ready to insert these dollars into cities and continue the positive momentum of eliminating blight so it can no longer stand in the way of neighborhood revitalization,” MSHDA Executive Director Kevin Elsenheimer said in a written statement.

By March 11, MSHDA also plans to apply for a share of an additional $1 billion in Hardest Hit Funds.

In Michigan, the blight elimination program has allocated $121 million since its creation in 2013, helping to clean up or demolish more than 8,000 abandoned structures.