Blight busted: Proposal N bonds help Detroit clean up 1,500 properties so far

Posted at 3:13 PM, Feb 09, 2022

(WXYZ) — With Proposal N, the City of Detroit says it's knocked down or stabilized over 1,500 properties, giving neighbors some hope.

"We've been looking at these houses for 18 years, and we've been trying all this time to get someone to come and help us get them torn down," said Pamela Harris.

After nearly two decades on Caldwell Street, Harris got what she's been waiting for.

On Tuesday, Detroit's Demolition Department started the process of tearing down two vacant homes, eyesores and safety hazards on her block.

"You may have someone who is sick or on drugs and they would sleep, and then you have the animals and then you have the possums and the rats and raccoons. And that's why all the holes is in the roof and everything. So it is a great need to be torn down," said Harris.

It was torn down using dollars from the federal government's hardest hit fund.

"It's exciting to be able to use this funding to come out into this neighborhood, because the residents deserve to see this happen," said Ryan Foster, press secretary for the Detroit Demolition Department.

Foster says Harris owns the lots next door and plans to buy the two new lots from the demolition and make it a community space.

For other vacant land throughout the city, what could be next? Alyssa Strickland, spokesperson for the Detroit Land Bank Authority, says the organization has sold 20,000 side lots to Detroit homeowners as well as more than 800 neighborhood lots; a combined nearly 30,000 neighborhood and side lots are currently for sale.

"The great thing about our side lot and neighborhood lot programs is the residents really get to decide how they want to use that property," said Strickland.

Strickland says the Land Bank has partnered with the city on a number of developments, including using the land for new housing.

Alan Mallach, senior fellow for the Center for Community Progress, says there's a vast amount of people who've left Detroit, leaving empty buildings and open space. He says land where vacant lots abound can have an alternative use.

"You might start thinking about farms, thinking about reopening some of the streams that were buried, that run through different parts of Detroit back in the, that were back in the 19th century, large-scale parkland, forests even," said Mallach.

Strickland provided the following links for anyone interested in the Detroit Land Bank Authority's programs: [] [] [] [] []