Detroit to auction abandonded homes online in fight vs. blight

DETROIT (AP) - Detroit officials will soon have a new tool to help them fight blight: an auction website to give vacant, city-owned houses to people willing to quickly fix them up, city leaders said Monday.

Beginning May 5, one home will be auctioned each day on the land bank website. Of the 15 homes currently listed for sale, the first dozen are located in Detroit's East English Village neighborhood.

The East English Village Association will host an April 27 open house for bidders interested in homes in the east side neighborhood.

"We are moving aggressively to take these abandoned homes and get families living in them again," said Mayor Mike Duggan, who has made stabilizing Detroit neighborhoods one of his top priorities.

"There are a lot of people who would love to move into many of our neighborhoods. Knowing that other people are going to be buying and fixing up the other vacant homes at the same time will make it a lot easier for them to make that commitment."

Detroit has struggled for years with vacant homes and buildings, and thousands have been razed. No official number is available, but a blight removal task force is working to complete a survey of more than 380,000 total structures and vacant parcels in the city to help with demolition efforts.

Vacant houses and buildings often are vandalized by metal and wire thieves. The damage they do make the structures nearly impossible to sell.

East English Village resident David Rutledge says he welcomes the new program.

“As long as we get good neighbors, respectful neighbors." said Rutledge, "I prefer neighbors over a vacant house.”

Duggan said last week that Detroit will post legal notices on empty houses and take court action if needed against owners of blighted properties in one northwest side neighborhood.

"People have walked away from great homes in their neighborhood because they thought their block had no future," said Brenda Jones, Detroit City Council president.

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