The Genesee County Land Bank Authority (GCLBA), a government organization that manages tax-foreclosed properties, is moving forward with a $45 million plan to demolish more than 2,000 blighted homes in the county. The proposal was given final approval by Flint, Michigan’s city council April 12.
Most of the demolition will take place in Flint. The total number of houses set for demolition is 2,415, including 2,265 in Flint, 94 percent of the proposed program.
“There are about 7,000 households that sit next to these public blighted properties,” says Michael Freeman, executive director of the GCLBA. “If you do the math, there are about three people per household, so that's 21,000 people who are adversely affected by blighted structures in the city. That's roughly one-quarter of the population of a city that must deal with these properties.”
The goal of the project is to uplift the households located near the blighted houses. This project is expected to increase property values for the houses near blighted properties by 4.2 percent and decrease the abandonment in these communities by 2.5 percent.
Freeman says he hopes to demolish 500 homes by the end of the year. In 2023 and 2024, he says the organization plans to demolish 1,000 homes respectively. The land bank will select structures for demolition by using various criteria such as the rate of the building's decay and the sturdiness of its structure. It is also taking input from residents and the local governments.
“All these expenditures have to be completed by no later than 2026,” he says. “That's the federal grant period for completion. However, we would love to be able to do this in three years.”
During the demolition process, the authority says it will provide the city with the tools to identify privately-owned homes that need to be repaired or demolished.
The cost of the project will be split among three different entities. Flint will pay $16 million, while the county will pay $8 million and $21.3 million in grants will come from the state of Michigan and the Mott Foundation, a Flint-based nonprofit.
The GCLBA is undergoing a procurement process for demolition contractors in the area. Freeman says the organization will rely on various minority or female-owned businesses to demolish the homes in the program.
The GCLBA recently completed a similar demolition project which began in 2014, was completed in 2020 and cost $67.5 million, Freeman says. The organization demolished more than 4,000 homes in Flint during that period.