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flint blight

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

FLINT, Mich. (AP) - A federal watchdog agency plans to conduct an audit of $25.5 million in demolition costs in Flint related to the federal Hardest Hit Fund.

  The Office of the Special Inspector General for the Troubled Asset Relief Program, or TARP, informed the U.S. Secretary of Treasury last week of the planned audit.

  That letter said the audit would examine demolition and related costs in Flint that were reimbursed with TARP dollars.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Michigan may soon apply for tens of millions of dollars in federal funding to tear down blighted homes.

Michigan U.S. Senators Debbie Stabenow and Gary Peters met with Congressman Dan Kildee in Flint today to discuss the transfer of $2 billion into the federal Hardest Hit Fund.

Peters says the evidence that this program works is “overwhelming”.

“Whenever you knock down blighted homes in a neighborhood, those property values stabilize. Those properties go up in value.  People move back into the neighborhood,” says Peters.  

Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

The Obama administration is letting Michigan divert almost $33 million from foreclosure prevention to demolition projects.

Detroit and Flint will benefit from the additional funds, which come from Michigan’s share of the federal Hardest Hit Fund.

That program was originally meant to help homeowners facing foreclosure. But as the result of lobbying from state and local officials, the Obama administration has allowed Michigan to divert money from HHF funds toward blight removal three times since 2013.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Hundreds of teenagers fanned out across Flint today to help clean up the city.   Many hope by doing so they can also help clean up the city’s battered image.

Teens spent hours picking up trash, hauling away brush and painting boarded up homes.

Jason Lorenz / City of Flint

Along the mix of downtown buildings and neighborhoods filled with small single family homes, the city of Flint also has its share of mobile home parks.  

The trailer parks are the usual collection of mobile homes laid out in neat lines. But in some cases, it’s not so neat.

Flint has torn down thousands of old, dilapidated homes in the name of blight elimination.  The city is now turning its attention to its handful of trailer parks.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

A major blight elimination program is winding down in Flint.

Around 1700 dilapidated homes have been torn down during the past few years. The program is funded with nearly $23 million in grant funding.

Christina Kelly is with the Genesee County Land Bank. She says the before and after effect on neighborhoods is something to see.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Flint is facing a BIG bill to clean up thousands of blighted properties.

A third of Flint properties are blighted. It’s estimated it will cost roughly $100 million during the next five years to fix the problem.

That’s according to Flint’s Blight Elimination Framework. 

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

The state of Michigan is handing out $75 million to help a dozen cities deal with blighted homes.    $50 million is going to Detroit.

Mary Townley is with the Michigan State Housing Development Authority.    She says the federal grant dollars are intended to remove dilapidated homes and help neighborhoods.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

A home was torn down in Flint this morning.

But the home on Parkbelt Drive is different from the hundreds of other blighted homes that have been demolished in Flint in recent years.

An online crowdsourced fundraising campaign paid to tear down the fire-gutted home on Flint’s north side.   The campaign collected more than $10,000. 

Paulette Mayfield owns the house next door. She contributed to the online campaign.

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.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

FLINT –  The federal government has launched the Strong Cities, Strong Communities initiative in Flint to improve the city.

In January, Flint was chosen to be a part of the program, also called SC2. The program uses experts to work alongside city leadership, community organizations, local business and philanthropic foundations to support the cities' visions for economic growth and development.

A demolition in Flint.
Genesee County Land Bank

FLINT – Michigan is giving $2.6 million to Genesee County's land bank to demolish and improve 225 blighted properties in Flint's Civic Park neighborhood.

The Michigan State Housing Development Authority is making the grant with money from the federal Hardest Hit Fund.

The land bank now owns about half of the properties in the Civic Park area, and 71 more properties are recent tax foreclosures. The land bank says most are in need of demolition and greening because of deterioration and theft by metal and other scrappers.

State housing authority acting executive director Wayne Workman says the award will allow strategic demolitions and help preserve the neighborhood.

The Genesee County Land Bank also received $20 million last October to demolish, green, and maintain more than 1,600 properties.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

A non-profit group in Flint hopes salvaging parts of some of the city’s blighted homes will help salvage the lives of some of Flint’s most in-need residents.

Lynette Delgado is with the B-Light Restoration Center. She says they are working with private property owners to salvage bits and pieces of homes to be demolished. She says they’re training local homeless and other at-risk individuals to remove architectural features of blighted homes.

Fight Blight and Spur Revival in Flint campaign / indiegogo.com

Tackling the issue of blight in urban communities is incredibly challenging.

Recently, the city of Flint, with the help of the Genesee County Land Bank, has torn down 600 properties in its effort to demolish more than 1,500 blighted homes in the city.

It’s part of the Michigan Blight Elimination plan, with support from the Hardest Hit federal grant fund.

Doug Weiland, executive director of Genesee County Land Bank, joined us on Stateside to talk about the plan’s priority and progress.

Meanwhile, some people are taking a very personal approach to dealing with blight in Flint.

There’s a crowdfunding campaign going on right now that hopes to raise $10,000 to tear down a single crumbling home on Parkbelt Drive. 

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Flint’s newest church has an unusual mission.

Its goal is to save the neighborhood that surrounds it.

Community Impact Church held its first Sunday service yesterday in a formally abandoned church. The church is surrounded by abandoned homes, blight, and vacant lots filled with weeds.

Pastor Corey James says his Allen Park-based ministry decided to set up in one of Flint’s more distressed northside neighborhoods for a reason: To help people rebuild their neighborhood.