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Flint's blight problem (and solution) detailed

Steve Carmody
Michigan Radio

Flint is facing a BIG bill to clean up thousands of blighted properties.

A third of Flint properties are blighted. It’s estimated it will cost roughly $100 million during the next five years to fix the problem.

That’s according to Flint’s Blight Elimination Framework. 

The report looks at a broad spectrum of problems, from grass allowed to grow thigh-high on vacant lots to dilapidated buildings that need to be torn down. 

The framework uses data collected as part of Flint’s new master plan. 

Five-year benchmarks in the Framework quantify what is necessary to eliminate blight in Flint:

•         Remove 71,000 tons of garbage

•         Board 5,000 vacant structures

•         Demolish 5,500 vacant and blighted structures

•         Mow 19,842 properties annually

•         Reuse 5,000 vacant lots


•         Bring 95% of properties into compliance with local ordinances

•         Structurally and functionally rehabilitate 850 houses

•         Increase commercial building occupancy by 15%

Natalie Pruett produced the report. She says blight must be addressed to help those who want to live in Flint.

“The goal here is really improving the quality of life for Flint residents,” says Pruett. 

Volunteerism is seen as key to eliminating Flint’s blight problem.

“In Flint, community groups and neighbors come together to play a major role in eliminating blight from our neighborhoods, and this framework quantifies that for the first time,” said Clarence Campbell, vice president of Flint Neighborhoods United (FNU), an organization that represents neighborhood associations and block clubs.

Officials also say there's a need to change property maintenance standards, including code enforcement.

"Flint is a city in transition," Mayor Dayne Walling said in a statement. "By being strategic ... we are going to win the war against blight."

Steve Carmody has been a reporter for Michigan Public since 2005. Steve previously worked at public radio and television stations in Florida, Oklahoma and Kentucky, and also has extensive experience in commercial broadcasting.
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