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Detroit demolitions

Demolition
Sarah Hulett / Michigan Radio

Detroit has demolished more than 19,000 abandoned buildings under Mayor Mike Duggan.

But a new report contends that demolition program has suffered from mismanagement and lacked oversight.

Those findings are laid out in a report from Detroit’s Auditor General. Among other things, it found that city departments failed to properly supervise demolition contractors.

That resulted in things like contractors starting demolitions before they got proper permits, and failing to take proper safety precautions.

Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

“I am obsessed with a goal: To eliminate blight from the city of Detroit entirely by 2025,” Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan said recently.

A demolition on Detroit's east side.
Sarah Hulett / Michigan Radio

Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan has outlined a program to the City Council to eliminate residential blight from all Detroit neighborhoods by mid-2025.

Duggan has proposed asking voters to give the city authority to sell up to $250 million in bonds.

A demolition on Detroit's east side.
Sarah Hulett / Michigan Radio

Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan took a bit of a victory lap Wednesday, after learning that no more indictments are expected to fall on city hall from a federal probe into the city’s demolition program.

Federal authorities took an unusual step this week, and announced that no more “public officials” are likely to face charges from the years-long investigation.

Under Mayor Mike Duggan, Detroit has used federal anti-blight funds for an aggressive demolition campaign.
Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

Detroit’s two representatives in Congress are worried that state regulators may be letting hazards slip through the cracks of federally-funded demolition programs.

Reps. Rashida Tlaib and Brenda Lawrence, both Democrats, outline those worries in letters sent to the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality and Michigan State Housing Development Authority Friday.

They urge the agencies to investigate possible public health concerns from potentially contaminated demolition sites in Detroit. But they also express concerns about federally-funded blight elimination programs statewide, and urge the state agencies to fully implement recommendations from a 2017 federal report on Flint’s demolition program.

Detroit has by far the biggest demolition program in the state. It’s demolished more than 11,000 blighted homes during Mayor Mike Duggan’s tenure, mostly by using about $250 million from the federal Hardest Hit Fund.

City of Detroit / via Twitter

Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan’s annual state of the city speech Tuesday night focused on jobs — specifically, on “creating job opportunities for everyone” in the city.

Duggan touted several of his administration’s jobs initiatives, including his Detroit At Work program and a youth summer employment program.

Abdul El-Sayed
Bridge Magazine

Abdul El-Sayed shows no sign of backing away from a feud with Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan over the city’s building demolitions program.

The Democratic candidate for governor again slammed the program in a statement Friday, capping several days of verbal sparring with Duggan’s office. The back-and-forth followed El-Sayed’s appearance on Michigan Radio’s Stateside this week, when he said Detroit’s sweeping demolition blitz under Duggan was “poisoning kids with lead up until this year.”

Peeling lead paint.
Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

Starting this summer, Detroit will try a to combat its problem with childhood lead poisoning by heading to what’s usually the source: the homes where children live.

MICHAEL COGHLAN / FLICKR - HTTP://J.MP/1SPGCLO

Asbestos popped up a few times in the news this week.

The Detroit Free Press published an investigative piece about how the quick pace of demolitions of abandoned homes and buildings in Detroit might be endangering residents.

The city says that’s demonstrably false.

Then yesterday, Michigan’s Auditor General found the state’s asbestos remediation program needs more inspectors and more money. As Michigan Radio reported, the program is falling behind in its reports and follow-up visits.

A home being demolished in Detroit.
City of Detroit / via Facebook

The Detroit Land Bank Authority will pay the state $5 million to settle complaints over how its demolition program handled invoices.

But Mayor Mike Duggan says the city will also get $5 million from the state in new demolition money.

“This gives us enough funding to go full speed ahead with the demolitions for the next year and a half,” Duggan said.

The city also reimbursed the state roughly $1.3 million for its investigation costs.

Duggan is satisfied with the deal.

A home being demolished in Detroit.
City of Detroit / via Facebook

The agency in charge of most of Detroit’s demolition program is hitting back at a recent city auditor general’s report.

That report, issued late last month, accused the Detroit Land Bank Authority of poor management and dubious practices.

The DLBA has run most of Detroit’s aggressive anti-blight program under Mayor Mike Duggan, helping demolish almost 11,000 structures during his term.

A demolition on Detroit's east side.
Sarah Hulett / Michigan Radio

A special report from Detroit’s auditor general says the city’s sweeping demolition program is still riddled with problems.

But the Detroit Land Bank Authority, the agency that runs program, calls that report “full of errors and misinformation.”

DetroitMI.gov

Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan says he wants to speed up the process of acquiring blighted homes through the Detroit Land Bank Authority, an agency under federal investigation.

The current city treasurer, David Szymanski, will step down from that role and move over to the land bank to lead a “litigation team” that will focus on seizing more blighted properties under nuisance abatement laws, Duggan said Thursday.

Under Mayor Mike Duggan, Detroit has used federal anti-blight funds for an aggressive demolition campaign.
Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

We now know the contents of two federal subpoenas issued to the Detroit agencies running the city’s building demolitions program, but they don’t tell us much more than we already knew about an ongoing investigation.

The Detroit Land Bank and Building Authorities received the subpoenas in May.

They demanded the agencies turn over basically everything they have related to federally funded demolition contracts since the start of 2014.

Judge's gavel
Flickr user Joe Gratz / FLICKR - HTTP://J.MP/1SPGCL0

More details about the nature and scope of a criminal investigation into Detroit’s massive demolition program should come out in court next month.

That’s when a Wayne County judge has ruled that a federal subpoena for Detroit’s land bank will be unsealed.

Detroit has demolished more than 10,000 blighted homes under Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan’s administration.

The Detroit Land Bank Authority has done most of those demolitions, using almost $130 million in federal funds so far.