Signs like these are a common sight in neighborhoods all across Detroit, where more than 78,000 homes sit abandoned and falling apart.
Now, the Motor City is getting a $52 million boost to fight the blight with wrecking balls and dump trucks under a plan to demolish more than 4,000 vacant homes across the city.
“By eliminating the blight in a neighborhood, we increase the property values, give the folks an incentive to stay in their homes, and therefore maybe they won’t get into a foreclosure problem,” explains Scott Woosley, executive director of the Michigan State Housing Development Authority.
With $100 million in federal funding from Troubled Asset Relief Program’s Hardest Hit Fund, officials are hoping the massive demolition project will reduce foreclosures and stabilize neighborhoods in five of Michigan’s largest cities.
“It brings our neighborhood down, our community down. It ain’t no community."
- Robert Couch, Detroit homeowner
More than 30 abandoned homes are on Robert Couch’s small street on the city’s west side. He says those properties have become magnets for squatters, scrappers, and criminals.
“It brings our neighborhood down, our community down," he told Fox News. "It ain’t no community. We tried to do what we can as neighbors, but neighbors can’t do it all by themselves.”
Abandoned and blighted homes lead to an increase in crime, depressed home values for surrounding properties, and strain community resources, according to Woosley.
For instance, he says, 60 percent of Detroit’s roughly 12,000 fires each year occur in abandoned properties.
“By taking those down, we’re taking that out of the equation," Woosley said.
Seventh and Eighth District Police officers, as well as members of NOPD's VICE Unit, arrested 11 women and 5 men after conducting a 6-week long undercover operation to identify prostitutes and their customers on Chef Menteur Highway.
The investigation was launched in October after police received multiple complaints from residents and business owners who noticed an uptick in what they suspected was prostitution all along Chef, from Downman Road to Read Boulevard. Seventh District detectives also recognized the need for the undercover operation after noticing a recent increase in crimes associated with prostitution, like illegal drug sales, armed robberies and shootings.