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Slowly, Bing plans for Detroit neighborhoods move forward

Detroit officials are showing off progress on some of Mayor Dave Bing’s signature initiatives.

Bing toured a rehabbed historic house in the city’s once-prestigious Boston-Edison neighborhood Tuesday. Boston-Edison has historically been one of the city’s stronger communities, but it’s seen blight creep in steadily over recent years.

The Bing administration aims to reverse that with initiatives like the Detroit Works Project, which directs resources into the city’s more stable neighborhoods.

Aundra Wallace heads the Detroit Land Bank Authority, which is running a pilot project to rehab and sell some abandoned homes. They own more than 30 homes in Boston-Edison alone, and are rehabbing 13 right now.

Wallace says their goal is simple: hook a few interested buyers with incentives, use Neighborhood Stabilization Program (NSP) funds to refurbish the homes—and then get out.

“We don’t want to be in any neighborhood long-term,” Wallace said. “We just want to take that risk, that’s needed, to get the private sector to come in…and renovate houses.”

Wallace says the land bank is “following the city administration’s lead” in targeting homes to revitalize. In addition to Boston-Edison, they’re also working with the East English Village neighborhood on the city’s far east side.

Both neighborhoods are part of the city’s NSP Homebuyers Program and the Bing Administration’s Project 14, which seeks to lure police officers back to the city with additional home-buying incentives. Boston-Edison is also one of three Detroit Works demonstration areas.

This idea behind Detroit Works—and the host of housing, demolition, and rehab programs dovetailing with it—is to stabilize these communities before they’re beyond repair.The project has rolled out slowly and unevenly, and the idea remains controversial.

But the opportunity to own a historic, refurbished five-bedroom home in stately Boston-Edison is a dream come true for Derek Horride. He’s the 27-year-old nurse slated to live in the house Bing toured Tuesday.

“It’s amazing, the opportunity to be able to own a historical home in one of Detroit’s most beautiful neighborhoods,” said Horride, who grew up nearby. “I was sold when I first saw the home.”

Horride said he thinks with the influx of outside resources and continued participation from the area’s strong community groups, the whole neighborhood is ripe for renewal.

Sarah Cwiek joined Michigan Public in October 2009. As our Detroit reporter, she is helping us expand our coverage of the economy, politics, and culture in and around the city of Detroit.
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