Flint, Saginaw blight projects moving along smoothly - ABC 12 – WJRT – Flint, MI

Flint, Saginaw blight projects moving along smoothly

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(06/19/14) - Fighting blight is helping to change the image of two Mid-Michigan cities.

Flint received about $24 million federal last year for one the largest residential blight removal programs.
     
Saginaw received about $11 million.
         
In Saginaw, 300 properties have been demolished so far and there's an additional 600 that have to be torn down by March.
     
There's also a lot of work taking place in Genesee County, but both cities are on the right track when it comes to fighting blight.

Fleming Street is one of several areas in Flint where federal dollars are being spent to fight blight. Residents say now that the clean up efforts are taking place in their neighborhood, they can barely recognize it.

"They cleaning it up around here, maybe some day they can start building some gardens around here now," said Dequintre Smith.

So far about one quarter of the grant money has been distributed for blight removal in Flint.

"That $6 million has gotten us 539 demolitions down so far and another 1,156 that are in progress, so we've got almost 1,700 demos that look like we'll be able to get done with the funding," said Doug Weiland, of the Genesee County Land Bank.

Weiland says part of the project will be completed in August and the larger grant will be completed in April of 2015.

"We're very pleased with it, it takes a while to get this ramped up because you have a lot of environmental abatement that needs to be done. A lot of permits that have to be pulled. Utilities that have to be cut and plugged, electric, gas, water," he said.

Weiland says what makes him feel good is when he receives phone calls from residents that notice the positive changes that are being made in their city.

"They're coming down and cutting the trees, I really think they're doing a great job," said Alfred Taylor of Flint.

"Kids ain't got to worry about walking down a burnt down house and it just look a lot better around here," Smith said.

The city of Saginaw is working with three contractors, but even $20 million plus can't cover all the areas that need help.  

"This is sick, it makes my value on my house right here, that house right here is only appraised at 14,000 now because of these abandoned homes," said Randy Huyck of Flint.

Huyck has lived on Roberts Street for six years. There are a number of abandoned homes there, but ABC12 has learned that this street is not on the demolition list.

"These houses all have been trashed, gutted out and they're not safe and I worry about my kids going in these houses and nobody is tearing them down," Huyck said.

Huyck says he spends about $200 of his own money every month to keep his neighborhood clean.

"I mow about 30 yards, I pick up any garbage laying around, I paint the curbs, I'm trying to board up all the windows and doors and whatever I can do, this one had a lot of blight at one time, it was all the way to the top of the fence right over here," he said.

Huyck hopes residents will join in on his efforts. He's sponsoring a clean up block party Saturday morning at 4521 Roberts Street at 9 a.m. and is trying to raise enough money so that he can continue to improve conditions in his neighborhood.

For more information, contact Huyck at 810-569-8465. You can also contact him at this number if you would like to help him raise money to keep his neighborhood in better condition.
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