Frequently Asked Questions

Click a question below to jump to the answer.

  1. What is the Detroit Blight Removal Task Force?
  2. What was the timeline for the Blight Removal Task Force’s work?
  3. How does the Blight Task Force define blight?
  4.  What is neighborhood blight?

  5. Findings

  6. How many blighted structures are there in Detroit?
  7. How long will it take to remove the blighted structures?
  8. How much will it cost to remove blight in Detroit?

  9. Financing

  10. Who will pay for blight removal?

  11. Motor City mapping

  12. Who conducted the physical parcel survey? Were they professional surveyors? 
  13. What kind of training did surveyors receive? 
  14. Was the 2009 Detroit Residential Parcel Survey or other data considered in the Motor City Mapping process?
  15. Is the data collected through Motor City Mapping available to the public?
  16. When will the Phase II/"interactive" version of Motor City Mapping become available for public use?
  17. How do you prioritize blight removal?
  18. How does the MCI tool work?
  19. How often is the MCI tool updated?
  20. What factors are involved in prioritizing and making decisions about my home and other homes on my block?
  21. Is any special consideration made for historic homes?/span>

  22. Demolition and Deconstruction

  23. What is the difference between demolition and deconstruction?
  24. When will blight demolition begin?
  25. What is the capacity for deconstruction vs. demolition?
  26. Will the demolition process be “green”?

  27. Jobs & Community Engagement

  28. When will blight demolition begin?
  29. How can Detroit residents apply for jobs and job training programs associated with blight removal?
  30. How can residents engage with the City of Detroit and DLBA on blight initiatives?

  31. Miscellaneous

  32. How will homes owned by banks and recommended for demolition be handled?
  33. Did the Blight Task Force address the root causes of blight?
  34. What is the role of the Blight Task Force going forward?

1. What is the Detroit Blight Removal Task Force?
In September 2013, the Obama Administration convened the Detroit Blight Removal Task Force to develop a detailed implementation plan to remove every blighted structure and clear every blighted vacant lot in the City of Detroit as quickly as possible using an environmentally-conscious approach. The three appointed chairpersons (Dan Gilbert, Glenda Price and Linda Smith) led a team of experts from the city, state and federal government, public and private sectors and the foundation community to collect data and create a set of recommendations. Their findings and recommendations were shared with Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan, Emergency Financial Manager Kevyn Orr and Obama Administration representatives on May 27, 2014.

2. What was the timeline for the Blight Removal Task Force’s work?
The task force began its “hunting and gathering phase” in fall 2013 by meeting with many organizations across the city representing community groups as well as local, state and federal officials. From mid-December 2013 through January 2014, 75 survey teams captured survey data for all 380,000 real estate parcels in the city of Detroit. Throughout the late winter and spring, the task force analyzed the data to create this blight elimination strategy proposal to address blighted residential structures, small commercial structures and vacant lots.

3.How does the Blight Task Force define blight?
The Blight Task Force defines blight as a property that:
  • is a public nuisance
  • is an attractive nuisance
  • is fire damaged or otherwise dangerous
  • has code violations posing a severe and immediate health or safety threat
  • is open to the elements and trespassing
  • is already on Detroit’s Buildings, Safety, Engineering, and Environmental Department (BSEED) Demolition list
  • is owned or is under the control of a land bank
  • has had the utilities, plumbing, heating or sewerage disconnected, destroyed, removed, or rendered ineffective
  • is a tax-reverted property
  • has been vacant for five consecutive years, and not maintained to code

4.What is neighborhood blight?
The Blight Task Force defines neighborhood blight as all blighted residential structures, small commercial structures (less than 25,000 sq. ft. lot size) and vacant lots.

5.How many blighted structures are there in Detroit?
There are a total of 84,641 blighted parcels that meet the Blight Task Force definition of blight or exhibit blight indicators.
  • 73,035 are residential structures (blight and blight indicators)
  • 6,135 are vacant lots that require clearing
  • 5,471 non-residential structures (commercial, civic,
  • church)
→ See pg. 15 in the Detroit Blight Removal Task Force Plan for a breakdown of blighted structures and vacant lots.

6.How long will it take to remove the blighted structures?
The Blight Task Force believes all blight in Detroit can be removed in five years or less. The Blight Task Force acknowledges this timeline will require additional funding, tremendous coordination and partnerships among residents, as well as the public, private and philanthropic sectors.

7. How much will it cost to remove blight in Detroit?
The Blight Task Force projects the total cost to remove all neighborhood and large scale/commercial blight in the City of Detroit could approach $2 billion. Of that total, the Blight Task Force estimates that $850 million will be required to address neighborhood blight (blighted residential, small commercial and vacant lots only). Neighborhood blight accounts for more than 93% of all blighted parcels in the City of Detroit.
→ For a breakdown of neighborhood blight removal projected costs, see pg. 222 in the Detroit Blight Removal Task Force Plan.

8.Who will pay for blight removal?
Approximately $456 million in funding has been identified for blight removal, leaving a $394 million shortfall. A total of $88 million is accessible immediately. Committed sources include the Federal Government Hardest Hit Fund Program, Fire Escrow, NSP II and CDBG. An additional $368 million will be made available over the next 5 years through the “Plan of Adjustment,” pending bankruptcy court approval. The Blight Task Force has asked stakeholders across all sectors to consider funding the $394 million gap.
→ For a breakdown of neighborhood blight removal funding, see pg. 230-231 in the Detroit Blight Removal Task Force Plan. .

9. Who conducted the physical parcel survey? Were they professional surveyors?
The “Motor City Mapping” project was created by Data Driven Detroit and Loveland Technologies:
- Data Driven Detroit, an affiliate of the Michigan Nonprofit Association (MNA), provides accessible, high-quality information and analysis to drive informed decisions. Data Driven Detroit completed a comprehensive Detroit Residential Parcel Survey in 2009.
- Loveland Technologies is a Detroit-based technology company that develops interactive property mapping systems to gather and present public information about properties in clear, actionable ways.
Through MNA, 150 Detroiters were hired to survey all 380,000 real estate parcels in the City of Detroit. Many of the surveyors lived in the areas they surveyed, and therefore were familiar with the local neighborhood and territory. Each surveyor went through a rigorous training process developed by Data Driven Detroit.

10.What kind of training did surveyors receive?
Surveyors were given specific training on precise, technical definitions related to the condition of the properties they would survey. Elements evaluated included the external condition of structures, evidence of illegal dumping, presence of fire damage, and whether properties appeared occupied or vacant. Because surveyors were unable to enter nor see the rear facades of properties, they were trained to be conservative in their assessment of property conditions. As a result, “Suggest Demolition” designations were used only to characterize severely blighted properties.
→ To view the full field survey, visit MotorCityMapping.org or reference pg. 290-291 of the Detroit Blight Removal Task Force Plan.
11.Was the 2009 Detroit Residential Parcel Survey or other data considered in the Motor City Mapping process?
Yes, in addition to the information collected via the Motor City Mapping survey, other data points were used to assess properties. Motor City Mapping brought together 24 data sets from the local, state, federal, and private level, such as utility connections, postal service data and foreclosure information. That data was then overlaid with the physical assessment information obtained from the Motor City Mapping survey. Taken together, the information provides additional clarity on the status of every property in the city.
→ A list of the 24 public and private data sets referenced above can be found on pg. 48 of the Detroit Blight Removal Task Force Plan.

12.Is the data collected through Motor City Mapping available to the public? ?
Yes, Motor City Mapping field survey results are available to the public through the following two formats:
• Aggregate statistics regarding property conditions, occupancy rates and instances of fire damage and dumping may be viewed in a neighborhood-level analysis at MotorCityMapping.org.
• Survey data is also available in its raw form (CSV file) at MotorCityMapping.org. The public may access this file under an open data license, available at the data portal maintained by Data Driven Detroit. The availability of this file is a significant step toward an open data environment that will encourage innovators and data scientists to build on the survey data collected through Motor City Mapping.
14.Is the data collected through Motor City Mapping available to the public? ?
13.When will the Phase II/"interactive" version of Motor City Mapping become available for public use?
In Summer 2014 Motor City Mapping will be made available in stages. In the meantime, the public may ask questions or share their concerns about demolition with their Neighborhood District Manager and/or Assistant District Manager (listed below).
On May 21, 2014, JPMorgan Chase announced that the company is dedicating $1 million to help the Detroit Land Bank Authority launch Phase II of Motor City Mapping. The updated tool, “People's Property Dashboard,” will provide the public with a transparent view of all parcels in the city and enable residents to update information about property in their neighborhood.
→ For a map of the 7 Detroit Neighborhood Districts and District Manager contact information visit: http://www.detroitmi.gov/DepartmentsandAgencies/DepartmentofNeighborhoods.aspx
14.How do you prioritize blight removal?
Prioritization is determined using the Maximizing Community Impact (MCI) tool, which is designed to assist planners in prioritizing geographic areas for blight removal. MCI helps identify areas throughout the city where investment in blight removal meets the following two objectives:
(1) Improves the quality of life for the greatest number of people in the city, and
(2) Improves opportunities for reinvestment and stabilization in Detroit's neighborhoods.
14.How does the MCI tool work?
MCI is a two-tiered process that can be applied across a wide variety of geographies. MCI layers data from two indices:
(1) The Neighborhood Threat Index, incorporates density of foreclosures from 2008 to 2013 and the change in residential property conditions since 2009. The areas identified between these two indices highlight neighborhoods that would experience the greatest impact from intervention, or "tipping point" neighborhoods.
(2) The Neighborhood Dynamics Index, which incorporates data about the following indicators: density of occupied structures, average condition rating from the Motor City Mapping survey, density of mortgage deeds per square mile, and density of population under age 18.
The MCI process is performed sequentially in order to identify areas for intervention.
16. How often is the MCI tool updated?
As conditions change on the ground and the data is updated, MCI can be retooled periodically to identify new areas that require intervention.
17. What factors are involved in prioritizing and making decisions about my home and other homes on my block?
The Strategic Assessment Triage Tool (SATT) is a set of 12 questions designed to help further evaluate and analyze individual structures such as environmental conditions, degree of damage, etc. Combining the information from the SATT with information obtained through Motor City Mapping will assist decision makers to determine what specific action (if any) needs to occur on each property. Examples of SATT questions include: estimated cost for asbestos and/or lead abatement; roof condition; fire and/or water damage; and, estimated value of salvageable materials. The answers to these questions will help inform decisions about specific houses.
→ The SATT Questions begin on pg. 114 in the Detroit Blight Removal Task Force Plan.
18. Is any special consideration made for historic homes?
The Michigan Historic Preservation Network (MHPN), in conjunction with Preservation Detroit and other partners, completed a survey of the six neighborhoods targeted by the Hardest Hit Funds Project to provide a data overlay from a historic preservation perspective. The goal was to inform blight elimination and demolition decisions and further conversations on historic resources. In just two weeks, more than 55 volunteers with backgrounds in historic preservation, architecture, and urban planning surveyed 17,500 properties in eligible historic districts across these six targeted neighborhoods.
The Task Force recommends that the Detroit Land Bank Authority continue to collaborate with the Michigan Historic Preservation Network and Preservation Detroit to inform the parcel-by-parcel decision making process.
19.What is the difference between demolition and deconstruction?
Deconstruction, or “salvaging,” involves human hands physically taking apart the majority of a structure and recycling as much of the removed material as possible. Demolition involves the use of mechanical equipment to take down the entire structure, and does not emphasize recycling.
20.When will blight demolition begin?
The DLBA began residential demolitions through the Hardest Hit Fund (HHF) Program in April 2014. The first demolitions occurred in the 6 original Hardest Hit Fund areas. The DLBA is preparing for a sharp increase in demolition activities in the original and expanded HHF areas this summer.
→ Please visit <http://www.detroitlandbank.com/hhf/hhfmap.pdf for a map of the original and recently expanded Hardest Hit Fund Areas.
21.What is the capacity for deconstruction vs. demolition?
Based on industry practices and current local capacity, the Blight Task Force estimates that roughly 10% of residential structures can be identified for deconstruction.
22.Will the demolition process be “green”?
The Blight Task Force recommends deconstruction, recycling, and environmentally-friendly or neutral abatement methods to establish an environmentally favorable process.
→ Environmental, deconstruction, demolition and recycling recommendations begin on pg. 128 of the Detroit Blight Removal Task Force Plan.
23.How can Detroit residents apply for jobs and job training programs associated with blight removal?
The City's workforce development agency, Detroit Employment Solutions Corporation (DESC), provides connections to employment opportunities for Detroit residents and offers an array of job search workshops, readiness programs and training resources. Other services such as career advisement, transportation, child care assistance, training stipends and clothing are available for eligible program participants.
Additionally, the Detroit Registered Apprenticeship Program (D-RAP) offers pathways to skilled trade apprenticeships made possible through union and construction employer partnerships. To contact DESC:
  • call 313-962-9675
  • visit a DESC One Stop Service Center
  • Samaritan Center (5555 Conner, Detroit)
  • Northwest Activities Center (18100 Meyers, Detroit)
  • SER Metro (9301 Michigan Avenue, Detroit)
  • visit the DESC website at www.detroitmiworks.org for information about daily orientations at 8:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. (arrive 30 minutes early)
24. How can residents engage with the City of Detroit and DLBA on blight initiatives?
There are several ways for residents to participate:
District Managers - The city will engage community members through its partnership with the Department of Neighborhoods and the city’s 7 district managers. District managers maintain regular contact with community stakeholders such as residents, block clubs, community development organizations, business, and churches. District managers attend several public meetings each week. Additionally, DLBA will work to disseminate information to the community through citywide intermediaries such as Community Development Advocates of Detroit (CDAD), Loveland Technologies, the Vacant Property Coalition, Michigan Community Resources and Detroit Future City (DFC). Each of these entities has an extensive community-based network and conducts a public meeting at least once per month.
→ For a map of the 7 Detroit Neighborhood Districts and District Manager contact information visit: http://www.detroitmi.gov/Neighborhoods

• Digital Communication Tools – Through the Motor City Mapping information portal, an enhanced website and social media tools, residents can directly participate in blight assessment and activities in their neighborhoods. Phase II of the Motor City Mapping portal will be available in Summer 2014 and will provide the public with a transparent view of all parcels in the city and enable residents to update information about property in their neighborhood.
25. How will homes owned by banks and recommended for demolition be handled?
Regardless of ownership, all properties meeting common nuisance laws will be treated consistently.
26.Did the Blight Task Force address the root causes of blight?
Although broader than the Blight Task Force mission, addressing the many root causes of blight in our community was essential. The Blight Task Force does recommend property tax reform (pg. 198) and legislative reform (pg. 212) to relieve some of the root causes of blight in Detroit.
27.What is the role of the Blight Task Force going forward?
Although there is no formal role for the Blight Task Force going forward, the Chairs and the entire Task Force team are committed to 100% blight removal in Detroit and will continue to support Mayor Duggan in these efforts.