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Detroit wants to buy 385 vacant public housing units, redevelop for neighborhoods

The Lee Plaza aprtment building in Detroit
Bryce Huffman
Michigan Radio
The Lee Plaza apartment building in Detroit has been closed for 20 years. It's one of two apartment buildings the city wants to transfer in a $1.7 million deal.

Detroit officials want to convert nearly 400 vacant public housing units to either low-income housing or development opportunities.


The $1.7 million deal would sell properties that are currently owned by the Detroit Housing Commission to the Detroit Building Authority and Detroit Land Bank Authority.


This deal includes the Lee Plaza and Woodland Apartments and over 125 single-family homes.


Arthur Jemison, director of the city’s Housing and Revitalization Department, says many of these properties are a drain on their neighborhoods.


“Some of those houses are historic and very beautiful, and some of them are just those two houses on my block that are holding my block back,” Jemison said. 


According to Jemison, the deal would help the Detroit Housing Commission get closer to the “high performing commission” title from the Department of Housing and Urban Development.


That designation would help the commission assist more low-income tenants through federal programs.  


Harold Ince, deputy executive director of the Detroit Housing Commission, says the deal would also help the housing commission financially. 


“By holding onto vacant properties, we end up spending additional money on maintaining them and keeping the properties secured,” Ince said. 


The deal will go before city council this week, but there is no exact timetable for when residents could see any changes to the properties.


Bryce Huffman was Michigan Radio’s West Michigan Reporter and host of Same Same Different. He is currently a reporter for Bridge Detroit.
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