June 12, 2017

THERE'S NOTHING WRONG WITH CITIES...:

The Motor City's Blight Busters : With a bottom-up approach, Detroit is making surprising progress toward turning around its neighborhoods. (BOB GRAVES | JUNE 12, 2017, Governing)
 
Housing blight was another visible sign of Detroit's decay. An estimated 78,000 structures, some 29 percent of all of those in the city, were in need of demolition or other intervention to restore neighborhoods, attract investment and end decades of decline. Today Detroit is running the largest blight-removal program of its kind in the nation. Tens of millions of dollars in state and federal funds are critical for the turnaround, but so is innovation by the city and a variety of stakeholders who are putting the funds to work more effectively through an online technology platform, the Detroit Demolition Tracker.

It's another example of the impact of a bottom-up approach. Brian Farkas, director of special projects for the Detroit Building Authority, explained in an interview that as recently as 2012 residents were not in the loop on the demolitions. There was a paper-based system with information limited to door hangers that included little more than a phone number to call for information. Demolitions weren't focused on specific neighborhoods but were taking place in scattered patterns throughout the city, which reduced the visual impact and impeded neighborhood revitalization efforts.

The Demolition Tracker upgraded both data inputs and outputs. Residents can type in their address and find an array of information about what is happening in the immediate block and neighborhood. "We were striving to give citizens an understanding of what's happening in their neighborhood," Farkas explained. "This was best done through map images rather than raw data."

The demolitions, Farkas noted, are erasing the underlying cause of "blight flight" and proving to be the foundation of rebirth for these neighborhoods. Research has shown that removing blighted structures not only raises the values of the housing that remains but also produces far-reaching effects. Where property values are rising, crime, unemployment and failing education all improve. Every blighted house that is knocked down, Farkas said, makes it easier to solve broader social problems.


...that demolition won't fix.

Posted by at June 12, 2017 5:18 AM

  

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