Peters, Stabenow, Kildee: New Resources to Fight Blight will Help Strengthen Neighborhoods, Decrease Crime

Studies Show Removing Blight Leads to Greater Economic Opportunity for Community and all Homeowners

FLINT – U.S. Senator Gary Peters, U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow and Congressman Dan Kildee (MI-05) today announced new efforts recently signed into law to help remove and repurpose thousands of abandoned properties in Flint and other cities across Michigan. 

Speaking in downtown Flint, the three members of Michigan’s congressional delegation celebrated a provision they championed to allow the U.S. Department of Treasury to transfer $2 billion more into the Hardest Hit Fund (HHF), a program that has already helped to clean up thousands of abandoned properties in cities across Michigan, including Flint, Saginaw and Detroit. Because of this provision, Treasury now has the authority to use the $2 billion to assist homeowners and eliminate blight through 2017.

The provision, a part of the end-of-year omnibus bill, was passed by Congress last week and has been signed into law by President Barack Obama.

“Flint, Saginaw and cities across Michigan have been working hard to demolish blighted homes, increase property values and improve public safety in their communities,” said Senator Peters. “I was honored to work with Senator Stabenow and Congressman Kildee to ensure that communities across Michigan have access to additional Hardest Hit Fund resources that will help them continue to these critical efforts to revitalize their neighborhoods.”

“This is a huge win for cities like Flint and Saginaw and will keep the momentum going to revitalize our neighborhoods,” said Senator Stabenow. “We’re already seeing how this funding is making a real difference locally, where thousands of blighted properties have already been demolished. It’s important our cities have the resources they need to continue making our neighborhoods safer places to raise a family.”

“One of my top priorities in Congress has been to support older, industrial communities like Flint and Saginaw so that they can compete in the new economy,” Congressman Kildee said. “Studies have proven that removing blight increases property values and decreases crime. But the real way I measure success is by imagining what an 8-year-old child sees when they stand on their front porch – do they see a burned-out building? Or can get they go next door to play at a new park because we have cleared away the blight? These new efforts are helping to make a positive difference in the lives of Flint residents.”

The new influx of federal resources into the HHF is in addition to the over $200 million Michigan has already received for blight demolition. Over the last three years, the rate of blighted properties being torn down has significantly increased. Since 2012, the Genesee County Land Bank (GCLB) has been able to tear down 2,087 blighted properties. According to the GCLB, there are approximately 2,400 properties still in need of demolition.

Independent studies have shown that removing blight and abandonment in cities like Flint, Saginaw and Detroit leads to greater economic opportunity for communities. According to a two-year study by the Land Policy Institute at Michigan State University, $3.5 million of demolition activity in Flint unlocked $112 million in improved property values for surrounding homeowners. Additionally, by removing abandoned properties in the community, crime and arson rates are reduced.