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Census shows 50% rise in vacant properties across Michigan

This house in Detroit sat abandoned for a while before a couple of artists bought it for $1,900.
Jennifer Guerra
Michigan Radio
This house in Detroit sat abandoned for a while before a couple of artists bought it for $1,900.

The number of vacancies in Michigan rose by nearly 50% over the past decade.

According to the latest U.S. Census data, the number of vacant housing units across the state jumped from about 448,618 in 2000 to 659,725 in 2010.

The foreclosure crisis likely played a big role in the rise of vacancies. The federal government doled out millions of dollars to states hit hardest by the crisis under the Neighborhood Stabilization Program (NSP).

Gordon Lambert heads up the Oakland County Community and Home Improvement Division. His group got a little over $17 million in NSP funds in 2009. Lambert says the money was used to help stem the did of foreclosures in the county:

"We took $5 million of that and put people back in houses through the county. The other roughly $10 million [was] allocated to about 10 participating communities, and they demolished houses that needed to be demolished and purchased and rehabbed houses and are now selling."

All told, Lambert says the money also helped put "about 200 people into vacant, foreclosed properties."

But Lambert says his group only got $2 million in NSP funds last year, so his group won’t be able to do nearly as much to keep up with the rising number of vacant properties in the area.

Macomb and Genesee Counties also saw a big drop in their NSP dollars in 2010.

Jennifer is a reporter for Michigan Radio's State of Opportunity project, which looks at kids from low-income families and what it takes to get them ahead. She previously covered arts and culture for the station, and was one of the lead reporters on the award-winning education series Rebuilding Detroit Schools. Prior to working at Michigan Radio, Jennifer lived in New York where she was a producer at WFUV, an NPR station in the Bronx.
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