The Spark

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.” — Karl Marx

Remove “Blight”
—Who Should Pay?

Nov 25, 2019

The Detroit City Council rejected a proposal by Mayor Mike Duggan involving the city taking on 250 million dollars in bond debt for “blight” removal. Had the city council approved the measure, the city would have asked voters to approve the plan in the upcoming March primary election.

The city has already been carrying out “blight removal.” Its plans are about halfway complete, with about 19,000 homes still slated for demolition.

In rejecting the plan, the council was simply responding to complaints from residents about being asked to pay even more over the next 30 years to pay off the bonds. Residents, including members of community groups like the Charlevoix Village Association and Detroit People’s Platform, spoke out at a public hearing the council held the night before the vote.

Some residents feel that money being spent on blight removal could instead be better put to use for other purposes, such as helping people to be able to stay in homes in danger of foreclosure. In fact, much of the money spent thus far for blight removal came from the federal government’s Hardest Hit Fund, money which supposedly was meant for exactly that purpose!

The people who spoke out against the proposal are right! Both of these things should be done. Certainly, no one is happy to have boarded-up abandoned homes dotting the landscape of their neighborhoods. And people should be able to stay in their homes.

Whether money is used to prevent people from losing their homes in the first place, or to tear them down after they become too worn down to restore, who should be made to pay the cost? Not long-time residents of the city, many of whom are already low-income!

Make the banks and mortgage lenders who preyed on people pay to fix the housing crisis they created!