DETROIT (WXYZ) - The City of Detroit is plagued by abandoned homes, but is the blight a budget buster?
John George, the founder of Motor City Blight Busters, says yes. The non-profit organization has taken down more than a hundred homes.
George says the group pays $720 to DTE-MichCon to turn off the gas, and another $550 to the Detroit Water and Sewer to turn off the water. The costs continue to increase with demolition permits, asbestos checks and other pre-demolition requirements.
DTE Energy spokesman Scott Simons says the costs are non-negotiable.
“The $720 doesn’t even cover our real costs,” Simons told 7 Action News. “We figure a job like this takes a $1,000 worth of labor and material. This is a cost that has been approved by the Michigan Public Service Commission.”
Rodney Johnson, who is the Assistant Director of Commercial Operations and Public Affairs with the Detroit Water and Sewer Department, said disconnecting the water isn’t as simple as turning off a valve.
Johnson says the Water Department might be willing to work with non-profit groups by allowing them to do some of the work themselves, but they would be required to receive proper approval from the Board of Water Commissioners.
The opportunity for compromise is enough to make George happy. He estimates they group could double its work if it cuts the fees in half.
“You know blight is like a cancer,” said George. “If you don’t stop it, it spreads and kills everything. You won’t have anything left. I think it’s in everyone’s best interest to work with us.”
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