Mayor Mike Duggan says city will board up all of Detroit's vacant houses in two years


Detroit's roughly 25,000 unsecured vacant houses could soon all be boarded up under a plan Mayor Mike Duggan announced today at the Mackinac Policy Conference.

Most of the blighted houses that would be secured in the two-year long effort are due to be torn down under an ongoing demolition program that Duggan's office says is moving at a pace of 5,000-6,000 homes per year. Duggan tells Crain's the board-up effort set to begin Aug. 1 will help neighborhoods in the meantime.

"We're going to go through and board up every house we can't get to so we're not just saying to people, 'It's going to be five years before we get to everything. Wait,'" Duggan said in an interview with the business publication on Mackinac Island.

Duggan's administration has been unable to meet its original goal of tearing down 10,000 blighted homes a year as the demolition program has come under local and federal scrutiny. Crain's reports the mayor acknowledged that the slower-than-expected pace of demolitions has created a need for securing vacant homes.

It's unclear how the board-up effort will be paid for and whether the city will contract with a company to get it done. A spokesman from the mayor's office says that, in the past, the Department of Neighborhoods has worked with the Building Authority and community groups to provide plywood for volunteers to board up homes. About 2,500 vacant homes have been boarded up through that effort in two years. The initiative Duggan is expected to outline today will target up to ten times as many houses in the same stretch of time.

You can watch the mayor speak at the Mackinac Policy Conference Wednesday at 4:10 p.m. here.

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