Detroit Regional Chamber > Detroit Policy Conference > Replacing Blight with Homeownership Key to Building up Neighborhoods

Replacing Blight with Homeownership Key to Building up Neighborhoods

March 1, 2016
A pivotal topic at the Conference focused on fighting blight in the city and increasing homeownership and neighborhood businesses. Addressing those issues requires a concerted effort to demolish vacant property in outlying neighborhoods.

“We all know blight is like a cancer, if you don’t stop it, it grows and kills a community,” said John George, CEO and co-founder of Motor City Blight Busters Inc. “To stop blight is very significant and the way to stabilize and revitalize Detroit.”

Throughout the session, “Building Detroit: One Homeowner at a Time, key community partners in Detroit’s residential development turnaround discussed the aggressive efforts underway to replace blight with sustainable home ownership through collaborative partnerships between the city and business community. From giving homeowners with vacant lots the opportunity to purchase the lots for $100, to rehabilitating houses and selling them, the Detroit Land Bank Authority is working to make neighborhoods livable again.

The panel also included Matthew Elliott, Michigan market president for Bank of America; Craig Fahle, director of public affairs for the Detroit Land Bank Authority; and Andrew Munro, execution team manager for the Bridges to Homeownership Program. The panel was moderated by Jennette Smith, editor for Crain’s Detroit Business.

Munro started the discussion by highlighting that homeownership is great as long as it is sustainable. Qualifying for homeownership requires financial literacy and training programs like the ones that the Bridges to Homeownership Program offer. Working with the Detroit Land Bank Authority, the program buys properties and works with tenants to give them the resources needed to be able to refinance the property – no matter their credit score or history.

Additionally, Elliot emphasized that for financial institutions to be successful, the neighborhoods and occupants need to be successful, and Bank of America is fully invested in the city’s revitalization.