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A burned-out house is reclaimed by nature on Detroit's west side.
A burned-out house is reclaimed by nature on Detroit's west side.

A plan to combat blight in 12 Michigan cities was approved for $75 million in Federal funding by the U.S. Department of Treasury.

The plan, created by the Michigan State Housing Development Authority (MSHDA), will help five cities in Wayne County including Detroit, Ecorse, Highland Park, River Rouge, Inkster and Hamtramck. Adrian, Ironwood, Jackson, Lansing, Muskegon Heights and Port Huron are also included.

Detroit’s part of the funds will certainly help, however, according to the Blight Removal Task Force, total blight removal in the city could cost as much as $2 billion with residential blight making up $850 million of that total.

This announcement follows the 2013 kickoff of the largest residential blight removal effort ever in Michigan that allowed MSHDA to use $100 million of its “Hardest Hit Fund” allocation for blight elimination in Detroit, Flint, Saginaw, Grand Rapids and Pontiac.

The released $75 million comes from the $498 million allocated in 2010 to the state of Michigan as part of the Hardest Hit Fund Program, designed to help homeowners in states hardest hit by the housing crisis.

“Michigan blight elimination strategy has become a national model,” Governor Rick Snyder said. “For too long, blight has driven down property values and stifled growth in some of our communities. This additional funding will expand the positive efforts already taking root in cities across our state, and we appreciate the support of our federal partners. This allows us to lay the groundwork for future economic success and make Michigan an even better place to live, work and play.”

The partnerships that have been demonstrated between federal, state, and local entities in their commitment to battle blight has been lauded by the U.S. Treasury, and the new funds are a result of the precedent that has been set by the work done so far.

Eligible cities for the “Hardest Hit” funds were selected by MSHDA based on an evaluation system that included residential housing vacancy rates.

MSHDA and the selected cities will be in meetings this week to discuss the process for submitting strategic blight remediation plans, designating at-risk areas within city limits, estimating project costs, establishing work timelines and other project related considerations.

“Abandoned and blighted homes create significant safety concerns for citizens and businesses, depress home values and strain community resources,” MSHDA Acting-Executive Director Wayne Workman said. “Expanding this program will further stem the tide of foreclosures, stabilize property values and help revitalize these cities block by block.”