Detroit's Demolition Derby

Detroit Mayor Dave Bing is going to crack down on the owners of homes the city has demolished, according to The Detroit News. The paper reports:

The city has spent nearly $50 million since 2004 demolishing buildings owners have left to rot, but weak collection efforts have largely left taxpayers stuck with the bill. ...

After years of failing even to send bills for costs, the city soon plans to begin filing suits against the owners of the 40 most expensive demolitions of the past six years. ...

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Many photographers have given us startling images of the effects of the swift, mass emigration of businesses and residents from Detroit. Time Magazine and others find the rubble morbidly fascinating and eerily artsy, but for Detroit residents, the reality is anything but charming. Entire neighborhoods are crumbling, and the city struggles to address that spreading disease: blight.

Despite tens of millions of dollars from the federal government under the Neighborhood Stabilization Program, many neighborhoods will not be cleaned up.

Mackinac Center Communications Specialist Kathy Hoekstra highlighted one woman's efforts to improve her neighborhood in this video.

Jean West has lived in her well-tended home in an increasingly troubled neighborhood on Detroit's northwest side for the past 38 years.

West hasn't taken the decline of her neighborhood sitting down. She says she has reached out to local leaders many times in the past. "I have sent letters; I've called city council and talked to city council; I've sent pictures; I've begged and pleaded with city council to come and take these houses down, to get these houses torn down."

Less than one-third of the federal money will go to home demolition, and city officials responsible for the distribution of it say there's no guarantee West's neighborhood will be "stabilized."

"It's not fair to the people who try to keep up their property, who do the right thing," West says. "You know? Thirty-eight years is a long time to be scuffling."

Michael LaFaive offers some suggestions on how to revitalize Detroit here.