blight

User: Brother O'Mara / flickr

Wolf hunt starts today

Michigan's first wolf hunt in modern time starts today.

"The hunt will take place in three specific zones of the Upper Peninsula. State wildlife officials hope hunters will kill 43 wolves during the hunt. There are an estimated 658 wolves in the U.P.," Steve Carmody reports.

House clears anti-blight bill

"Legislation meant to crack down on blight in several Michigan cities has cleared the state House. The bills would increase penalties for property owners who break blight laws that are already in place," Jake Neher reports.

Senate votes to increase campaign funding limits

"Republicans in the Michigan Senate have voted to boost donor limits to some types of political funds, and to allow the people who bankroll so-called “issue ads” to remain anonymous," Rick Pluta reports

Flint, Mich.
Flint Michigan / Facebook.com

On Monday, the Flint City Council approved a new master plan — the first new plan in more than 50 years.

The plan calls for stabilizing neighborhoods hit hard by blight, and creating new opportunities for business investment.

City officials and residents have spent the last two years coming up with the plan. Flint, about 50 miles northwest of Detroit, has been under state oversight since 2011. The city currently is dealing with $3 million in structural debt.

Will this new plan help Flint grow?

Listen to full story above.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

The Flint city council approved a new master plan for the city last night. 

Now the question is how to pay for it.

City officials and Flint residents have spent the last two years coming up with the plan. The last one was drafted more than a half century ago and it envisioned a very different city than what Flint became.

The new plan calls for stabilizing neighborhoods hard hit by blight and creating new opportunity for business investment.

Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

A group of grassroots Detroit activists says the city needs to broaden its vision of re-development beyond downtown.

The group Michigan United has proposed a plan it calls “restoring our communities.”

It proposes a city ordinance with concrete measures to control blight and revitalize Detroit’s suffering residential neighborhoods.

Measures include:

·        Requiring banks to post a $10,000 bond for each foreclosure. Groups leaders say this has worked well and raised revenue in other cities.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

The first of 1,600 homes in Flint fell to a backhoe today.

The Genesee County Land Bank and the Michigan State Housing Development Authority are using a $20.1 million federal grant to pay for the largest blighted home demolition program in Flint’s history.

The program is expected to eliminate a quarter of Flint’s 5,600 abandoned homes. 

Flint Mayor Dayne Walling says tearing down a derelict home has a positive effect on the surrounding neighborhood. 

“When dangerous houses come down, surrounding property values stabilize.  Safety increases,’ says Walling.

User: Brother O'Mara / flickr

More streetlight and less blight in Detroit in 60 days

Detroit's emergency manager says residents will be able to notice more robust city services within the next two months. As the Detroit News reports,

"After five months on the job, Kevyn Orr says efforts to restore streetlights and reduce the number of abandoned structures will become more visible within 60 days. Meanwhile, dozens of new public safety vehicles are hitting the streets, and police officers and firefighters are being outfitted with new gear and equipment."

More high speed rail in south Michigan

"Michigan is adding more high-speed rail. The federal government will give the state more than $9 million to upgrade train tracks between Dearborn and Kalamazoo. The upgrade allows Amtrak trains to travel as fast as 110 miles an hour," Tracy Samilton reports.

Funding boost will allow more kids in preschool

"As many as 16,000 more 4-year-olds will be able to attend preschool in Michigan this fall, thanks to a big boost in the state's early education budget," the Associated Press reports.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

The city of Detroit is getting $52.3 million to deal with its blight problem.

Several other Michigan cities are also getting money to tear down abandoned homes and clean up other vacant buildings.

In June, the U.S.Treasury Department approved $100 million dollars to help several Michigan cities deal with blight. 

In addition to the money going to Detroit, the governor’s office announced today that the city of Flint will receive $20.1 million. Saginaw, Grand Rapids and Pontiac will also receive some money from the federal government’s Hardest Hit fund.

Sarah Hulett / Michigan Radio

Detroit’s bankruptcy has been national, even international, news for more than a week now. But inside Detroit, many residents say they feel like they’ve been living in a bankrupt city for years. They’ve been working to do what the city should be doing, but doesn’t have the money to do. And they say more of their neighbors need to realize: nobody’s going to “save” their city but themselves.

Twenty-five years ago, John George got fed up with the blight in his neighborhood. He marshaled some neighbors, and boarded up the house in back of his.

That effort evolved into a group he calls Motor City Blight Busters.

“We just got done tearing down both these properties to your right and your left and this house is going to be next,” he said.

George’s crew is demolishing the vacant homes on two city blocks, and plans a large-scale garden for the neighborhood.

Let’s be clear here: It’s the city’s job to board up and tear down dangerous abandoned buildings, but there are almost 40,000 of them. The city just doesn’t have the money to put much of a dent in the problem, let alone keep on top of it.

George says he’s demolished, boarded up, built or rehabbed 1,500 buildings since 1988. He loves this city. But he says he doesn’t count on city hall for much of anything.

Daniell Walquist Lynch / Flickr

A new nonprofit is demolishing vacant homes (blight) in a northwest Detroit neighborhood.

The organization is called the Detroit Blight Authority, and is working on a project that encompasses all 14 blocks of the Brightmoor neighborhood.

According to a story in the Detroit Free Press, the Blight Authority already collected nearly 100,000 pounds of trash that had been illegally dumped in the neighborhood. Brightmoor encompasses an area of four square miles in Detroit.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

The city of Flint plans to use a $25 thousand grant to get the public involved in efforts to reduce blight in the city.

Flint Mayor Dayne Walling says blight is a multi-faceted challenge that includes demolishing abandoned homes and reclaiming neighborhoods.    He says volunteers are critically important to solving Flint's problem with blight.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

The city of Flint is restarting its derelict home demolition program.

The program was stalled earlier this year because of a lack of money.

Flint’s Emergency Financial Manager Ed Kurtz says the city plans to use some federal grant money to tear down abandoned homes that have become public safety problems.

“Hopefully, with the 2.3 million we can maybe get somewhere…around 300 homes,” says Kurtz,  “Just to put it into perspective….there’s probably some ten thousand properties in the city that would be subject to demolition.”

Photo by Kyle Norris

King Karate is a martial arts studio that’s been in the Flint area for 22 years. But in the past few years, the couple who run the studio have broadened their definition of self-defense…and that’s why they’ve added farming to their arsenal.

18 year old Hakim Gillard has a lot on his plate today.

First he’s got to harvest vegetables for tomorrow’s farmer’s market...

sassycrafter / Flickr

Mayor Dave Bing says there’s a lot the city of Detroit can learn from the way the city of New Orleans has tried to recover from Hurricane Katrina.  And, there’s much they can learn from Detroit.  

Jennifer Guerra / Reporter

Struggling artists generally don't make a lot of money, so they tend to live in grittier parts of the city where rent is really cheap. Inevitably, they spruce things up, more people move in, rent goes up, and artists are priced out. To ensure that doesn't happen to them in Detroit, a group of artists are taking matters into their own hands.

Abandoned house in Flint, MI
Flickr user jamesharv2005 / Creative Commons

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."

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