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Detroit to increase auctions and demolition of houses

Lester Graham
Michigan Radio

Workers removed some of the plywood covering up a house in the Osborn neighborhood on Sunday to allow potential buyers to check out one of the houses the city will put up for auction.

Saturday, people visited available houses in the Boston-Edison neighborhood.

Detroit owns 16,000 properties. Some of them are houses in good enough condition to sell.

Bidding starts at $1,000, but the buyers have to bring the property up to code and either live in it or rent it to someone.

Mayor Mike Duggan visited some of the houses on Sunday's open house. He says the program is escalating.

“We’re going to sell 400 (houses) before the end of this year and I think with the whole year next year the numbers will grow a lot faster,” Duggan told reporters.

The city has been auctioning off five houses a week. After Memorial Day, that will increase to 14 houses a week. As many as six thousand people have registered to bid on houses.

Credit Lester Graham / Michigan Radio
Michigan Radio

Among the visitors to the Osborn neighborhood were people who want to buy the houses, fix them up and then resell them. Others were looking for homes for family members. Still others were just curious.

It's estimated the city could sell as many as 2,000 houses over the next few years. However, the bulk of the properties owned by the city are burned out or too deteriorated to save. The Mayor says demolition of houses too far gone to fix will also increase. He expects 300 demolitions in May, 500 in June, and by this fall 800 a month. The city has averaged about 250 demolitions a month in the past.

Support for the Detroit Journalism Cooperative on Michigan Radio comes from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, Renaissance Journalism's Michigan Reporting Initiative, and the Ford Foundation.

Lester Graham reports for The Environment Report. He has reported on public policy, politics, and issues regarding race and gender inequity. He was previously with The Environment Report at Michigan Public from 1998-2010.
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