This week Flint has commenced its big project of removing some blight from its landscape. The first two of more than 1500 houses to be demolished were razed on Monday, October 14th. This will be the beginning phase of the largest government funded demolition project Flint has ever undertaken.
According to Dominic Adams on MLive.com, “Flint’s funding is part of the $100 million allocated to the Michigan State Housing Development Authority in July by the U.S. Treasury from the federal Troubled Asset Relief Program’s Hardest Hit Fund, designed to help cities in states hit hardest by the housing crisis.” http://www.mlive.com/news/flint/index.ssf/2013/10/see_where_the_first_32_homes_a.html#incart_river_default
From this allocation, Flint received $20.1 million, Saginaw got $11.2 million, Pontiac received $3.7 million, Grand Rapids was awarded $2.5 million, and Detroit will get $52.3 million. The money for Flint will only remove about 25 percent of the Flint’s 5,600 abandoned homes.
Unfortunately it would take the same amount of money every year for five years in order to remove all of the Flint’s abandoned homes. There is hope however, because in addition to federal funds, there are good works being done by Flint’s own Kettering University. With the help from a $15 million grant they received from the Mott Foundation, they have been buying up abandoned and foreclosed properties surrounding the school in their own effort to revitalize the area. As mentioned in a previous blog (Chevy in the Hole), Kettering is buying these blighted properties, tearing down the structures and (for now) turning them into “green” areas.
According to Robert McMahan, President of Kettering University, their ultimate goal would be to rehabilitate a walkable corridor of Flint that would connect the university with the restaurants and cultural activities of downtown. This would not only benefit the students at Kettering but all the businesses (and potential new ones) along the route. These rehabilitation efforts are discussed more in depth in an interesting interview on Michigan Radio featuring Kettering’s Robert McMahan and Doug Weiland (Executive Director of the Genesee County Land Bank). To listen go to: http://michiganradio.org/post/transforming-landscape-flint-michigan?utm_referrer=http%3A//m.michiganradio.org/%3Futm_referrer%3D%23mobile/14569
There are many who believe that cities like Flint and Detroit are too far gone and that there just isn’t enough money for revitalization. The news and media seem to portray this fatalistic attitude anyway. Some people might think that removing a few abandoned houses will not do enough to breathe life into these areas. I think any positive step, no matter how small, is a step in the right direction. The ball is rolling now. As momentum builds, hopefully we’ll all be surprised with the results!