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Duggan: We'll start seizing drug houses

Sarah Cwiek
Michigan Radio

Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan is expanding his program to seize houses that violate the city’s nuisance abatement laws—and this time, he’s going after drug houses.

On Tuesday, Duggan announced an initiative to seize and auction off homes that have been raided twice for drug activity.

Duggan says more than 300 homeowners have already been put on notice—and that starting next week, their neighbors will start getting notices in the form of postcards, too.

“We’re going to put the address of the house on it, and it’s going to say: ‘A drug house in your neighborhood has been busted. If it happens again, we’re taking the house,’” Duggan says. “And it has the telephone number (224-DOPE) on it, so that people can start to take back their own neighborhoods.”

Detroit Police Chief James Craig called the program “a great strategy” and “another tool in the toolbox to empower neighborhoods.”

Craig says it gets frustrating raiding the same drug houses over and over again, and he hopes this can stem the cycle.

“We go in, we beat the doors in, we shut the business down for a day in some instances-- only to find out that tomorrow, the drug house is open,” Craig says. “That is not the way business should be conducted.”

The Police Department will start sharing the addresses of raided homes with the Detroit Land Bank. Once ownership is verified, the Land Bank will send out a notice saying that if the home is raided for drugs a second time, it will file a nuisance lawsuit to seize the property.

Duggan has already launched an aggressive program to fight blight based on the same principle of using civil nuisance abatement to force property owners to either bring properties up to code, or forfeit them to the Land Bank.

The city is now auctioning some of those properties online at buildingdetroit.org.

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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