New task force working to fight Detroit blight - My29 WFTC Minneapolis-St. Paul

New task force working to fight Detroit blight, counting exact number of abandoned buildings

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(WJBK) -

In a city full of abandoned houses and vacant commercial buildings, a new task force is working to fight blight in Detroit.

Groups of surveyors are going to Detroit neighborhoods to count exactly how many buildings are blighted and abandoned.

VIDEO: Click on the video player above to watch the story in a report from Fox 2's Amy Lange, or read the story below
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Motor City Mapping - the magnets are going on the cars, the surveyors are in training and teams are getting ready to hit the streets. Their goal is to count Detroit's tens of thousands of burned out, abandoned buildings.

"We know that there's a lot of blighted properties around the city but we don't know - is that 50,000? Is that 70,000? No one's ever gone and counted this and so that's what this project aims to do," explains Sean Jackson, an executive associate at Rock Ventures.

"I'm able to see exactly what we're impacting and actually having a position that I can be impactful in - so I think it's great," says Kevin Irwin II, a surveyor from Quicken Loans.

Surveyors, like Irwin, are all Detroit residents. 75 teams of three will spread out throughout the city in search of blight. They won't have to go far as it's clearly one of Detroit's biggest problems.

"The elimination of blight is essential to the revitalization of the city. We will not be able to look at our neighborhoods and see them as strong and vital if they continue to be blighted," says Dr. Glenda Price. She is one of the co-chairs of the Detroit Blight Removal Task Force along with U-SNAP-BAC nonprofit housing executive director, Linda Smith, and Dan Gilbert, chairman and founder of Quicken Loans and Rock Ventures.

Dr. Price continues, "We want to stabilize neighborhoods. We want to make them attractive for people to move into and for people to stay."

And that effort has support from many community groups all the way to the U.S. government, and so many businesses in between. The surveyors will be using Android tablets to capture photos and information about blighted residential and commercial properties. And, starting now, they'll be hard at work building that database in a neighborhood near you.

The surveyors hope to have the mapping done by the end of January. Then those numbers will be used to formulate a plan. Moving forward, the Blight Task Force hopes to have the blight eradicated in three years.

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