Can Detroit erase residential blight in four years?

Mayor Mike Duggan plans to wipe out residential blight in Detroit by the end of his third term, but it’s a lofty goal that some say he’s unlikely to achieve.

The blight fight has been a recurring theme in Duggan’s tenure and he made the global following of Detroit’s “decay and ruin” and a dozen iconic commercial eyesores the focal point of his annual State of the City address last week.


Duggan ticked off rehabilitation projects underway at the former Michigan Central Depot and state fairgrounds and plans to address the defunct Packard Plant. He noted progress in the neighborhoods, too – 23,000 vacant houses have come down since 2014. But some elected leaders, residents and scholars are skeptical that the city’s blight problems can truly be eradicated without more meaningful efforts to address its systemic causes.

Duggan said in his ninth annual speech that the city is two-thirds of the way through knocking down its abandoned housing stock. Most of that work was completed with $265 million in federal Hardest Hit dollars and a controversial demolition bond is funding the removal or rehabilitation of thousands more.

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