Saving Detroit neighborhoods from blight


house in foreclosureMortgage foreclosures have hit Detroit neighborhoods especially hard, leaving even middle-class neighborhoods with hundreds of vacant houses. Neglected, those vacancies drag down property values and erode residents’ confidence in a neighborhood’s future, fostering more neglect and blight.

But in some neighborhoods, community-based organizations are fighting back – taking advantage of government and philanthropic programs designed to help head off blight and strengthen housing demand. A CARSS-supported effort led by Michigan urban planning professor Margaret Dewar aims to figure out what’s working, where, and why.

Dewar helped found a coalition called the Detroit Vacant Property Campaign, which gives community organizations the tools to fight blight, including help to:

  • Keep people in their homes by educating homeowners and buyers about mortgage, property tax, and foreclosure processes.
  • Develop a Vacant Property Strategy.
  • Build neighborhood capacity.

With CARSS help, she and U-M urban planning colleagues Lan Deng and June Thomas will evaluate revitalization efforts in the Grandmont-Rosedale and MorningSide/East English Village neighborhoods, where residents have worked with community development corporations to board up and maintain vacant properties and to buy, rehabilitate and sell foreclosed houses.

As the project – Formative evaluation of community-based efforts to save Detroit neighborhoods from the blight of mortgage foreclosures - progresses, the team will work with Michigan Community Resources and community-based organizations to identify changes that might strengthen their efforts.