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Has the city been paid to knock down the blighted house that's driving you crazy?

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  • Interactive map of 3,400 homes in Detroit and $21-million earmarked to fix or demolish them

    Interactive map of 3,400 homes in Detroit and $21-million earmarked to fix or demolish them

    Thursday, March 27 2014 4:51 PM EDT2014-03-27 20:51:38 GMT
    An investigation by Fox 2's M.L. Elrick finds the city is sitting on millions of dollars it collected from insurance companies to clean up homes and properties after a disaster.  But in hundreds of cases the money never got used and the homes become abandoned.  Are one of these homes next you?  Use our interactive map to find out and file a report.
    The bureaucracy in the city of Detroit is so bad that the city can't spend the money it collects to knock down abandoned homes. An investigation by Fox 2's M.L. Elrick finds the city is sitting on millions of dollars it collected from insurance companies to clean up homes and properties after a disaster. Are one of these homes next to you? Use our interactive map to find out and file a report.
By M.L. Elrick
Fox 2 Investigative Reporter

 
Has the city been paid to knock down the house that’s been driving you crazy?
 
It’s a troubling question, and one Fox 2 has been investigating for months.

To our surprise, and to the chagrin of many Detroiters, we’ve found that in hundreds of cases - and possibly thousands of cases - the answer is "Yes."

That’s because the city has been collecting millions of dollars from insurance companies when a building was severely damaged. City records Fox 2 obtained indicate Detroit has claimed more than $21 million in insurance money for more than 3,400 buildings since 1989.

Our investigation determined that, in many cases, the city has cashed the insurance company checks but failed to demolish the derelict buildings. This failure to act has left countless families living next to eyesores that could - and should - have been torn down years ago.

Two months after we first exposed this problem, Mayor Mike Duggan announced in his State of the City Address that he would use these unspent funds to knock down homes.

To help Detroiters determine whether the city has money on hand to demolish derelict buildings in their neighborhoods, we have created an interactive map that shows which buildings are on the city’s fire insurance escrow list, the date the building was damaged and how much the city collected from the insurance company. We obtained this information under the Michigan Freedom of Information Act.

LINK: Click here to view the interactive map


Some of the homes on the list have already been demolished. Some have been repaired and are occupied. Many have been sitting for years, waiting for the city to take action.

Fox 2’s goal is to help get these buildings knocked down as soon as possible. And we need your help.

Using the form on our website you can let us know whether you live near one of these buildings and share your story about what that experience has been like. Was the damaged building the first occurrence of blight in your neighborhood - or the last straw for neighbors who decided to move on?

LINK: Click here to file the report with Fox 2


We plan to collect your stories to help us put a human face on a tragic story about a city bureaucracy so broken it would allow residents to live next to rotting homes unnecessarily.

We also invite you to send us a photo of you and the eyesore in your neighborhood. You can share these photos with us on the Fox 2 Facebook page, the Fox 2 Twitter account, or email the photo to us directly at wjbkwebteam@foxtv.com. We ask that you please include the address of the home so we can keep tabs on the status of the building.


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