Detroit’s sweeping campaign against blight under Mayor Mike Duggan marked a big milestone Tuesday, as the city demolished its 10,000th home in two-and-a-half years.
Duggan has dramatically sped up the pace and scale of demolitions, saying the city and its residents can’t afford to delay tackling neighborhood blight any longer.
Duggan says every time a blighted home goes down, it raises the quality of life for residents of that neighborhood.
“These are folks who stayed in this city, paid their taxes, kept their houses up, and had to watch the blight spread. We’re finally starting to fight it effectively,” he said.
Duggan also called the whole effort “an incredible learning process.”
His administration has faced some big questions about this unprecedented demolition campaign.
One has to do with demolition costs, which have spiked more than 50%.
Duggan blames that on speed and scale. He says that for a number of reasons, ranging from environmental mitigation to trucking costs, tearing down more homes more quickly pushes average costs up.
The second question has to do with the initial bidding process. Duggan appointees apparently reached out to three large contractors ahead of time, and they worked out a pre-set demolition price.
But Duggan says the state agency that administers demolition funds approved that.
Detroit’s inspector general is still looking into these questions, as are federal investigators. These demolitions are almost entirely funded with reprogrammed money from the U.S. Treasury’s Hardest Hit Fund, which started out as a program to help homeowners avoid foreclosure.
In the meantime, the city plans to keep going. Duggan says another 8,000 demolitions are planned by the end of 2017.