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Rat chat


The problem of abandoned homes was front and center last week when the Detroit City Council summoned mayoral right-hand man Conrad Mallett Jr. to discuss the front office’s ambitious plan to demolish 1,700 abandoned houses located within 400 yards of schools by September.

After flustering a Detroit Edison engineer for not addressing her as “Madam Chairwoman,” meeting chair Barbara-Rose Collins pointed out that demolition crews aren’t adequately dealing with the sizable rat population setting up residence in abandoned structures. Once the homes go down, neighbors watch nests of the rodents scatter and “you know they are going to go somewhere,” Collins said. In fact, she lives across the street from an abandoned home on Leland and Chene, and though she wants the structure down she doesn’t want its rats moving into her place. “Do you think we could have DPW put poison down at all the houses?” asked Collins. Councilman Lonnie Bates chimed in, saying the rats in his neighborhood are so prominent he calls them by name. DPW Director Dwight Smith said the idea isn’t new, “but all that would have to happen is a child to come home and eat the poison, and we’re through.” Collins persisted, saying of the abandoned homes: “Nobody lives there but prostitutes and the rats. And the prostitutes aren’t going to eat it.” Well, we hope not. Long live the Madam.

Lisa M. Collins contributed to News Hits, which is edited by Curt Guyette. He can be reached at 313-202-8004 or

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