Flint, MI– What needs to happen to eliminate vacant and blighted properties?
Maybe you think the answer is more demolitions, or perhaps you want to see the lawns of vacant properties be mowed and better maintained. You might see the main problem as illegal dumping, or maybe you think the issue is code enforcement.
Whatever you think, the City of Flint, the Genesee County Land Bank, and the Flint Police Foundation want to know.
With a grant from the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation, these three entities teamed up to create a Blight Priorities Survey to gather input from the community, which will help direct efforts in eliminating blight.
“This is basically to help us understand what is the scale and scope of blight today, what has been done, what are the impacts of what has been done, and what can we do to eliminate blight, moving forward,” said the Land Bank’s Director of Planning and Neighborhood Revitalization Christina Kelly.
Kelly said there will be more community outreach to come, and that this survey is just one part of a bigger research project building off of a previous blight elimination plan.
In 2015, the City of Flint adopted a five-year blight elimination framework which used data to determine the scale and scope of the issue of blight, and calculate costs and resources needed to address blight over time.
According to that report, there were 19,842 properties that would be in need of blight elimination over the course of five years, which would cost $107,748,130.
“That was the first time that we had a comprehensive picture, like dollars and numbers of the challenge of blight in the community,” said Natalie Pruett, executive director of the Flint Police Foundation, and author of the 2015 blight report. “That was six years ago now, and so part of what we’re doing is taking a fresh look at that.”
Pruett said this survey, among other means of data collection and analysis, will help answer questions like: How many blighted properties are in Flint today? What are the associated costs with eliminating that blight? What resources are needed to address this?
The report from 2015 identified seven blight elimination activities: waste removal, boarding, demolition, mowing, vacant lot reuse, building rehabilitation and redevelopment, and code enforcement. Pruett said this survey will allow residents to select which of those activities should be prioritized, or submit their own suggestion.
“I think it’s really important to get the public’s input on what their priorities are, and the extent to which blighted properties are a challenge in Flint, and what their priorities are, what their ideas are for addressing those challenges,” Pruett said.
She said the foundation has repeatedly heard residents identify blight as a top priority.
“So we’ve released this survey to try to get even more detailed feedback on the priorities of Flint residents for addressing those problems,” Pruett said. “We really hope that people will take that opportunity to complete the survey and give us feedback and ideas.”
You can take the survey here.