Federal Agencies Investigating the Rising Costs of Detroit's Blight Program

Detroit's aggressive blight reduction strategy, to demolish vacant homes by the thousands, is coming under scrutiny for rising costs. The FBI and the U.S. Inspector General are investigating.

2 minute read

May 31, 2016, 11:00 AM PDT

By James Brasuell @CasualBrasuell

Detroit Vacant Properties

University of Michigan School of Natural Resources and Environment / Flickr

Matt Helms reports on the latest details of an expanding federal investigation in Detroit into increased costs in the city's demolition program. First, for those who missed it:

The FBI is assisting the U.S. Special Inspector General for the Troubled Asset Relief Program, or SIGTARP, in an investigation of bidding and price hikes for tearing down blighted homes in Detroit after costs rose from $8,500-$10,000 per home under former Mayor Dave Bing to an average at one point of $16,400 in 2014 under the Duggan administration's aggressive revamp of the city's demolition program.

Detroit has received more than $170 million from the TARP Hardest Hit Fund, dating back to 2013 and as recently as October 2015.

The Detroit demolition program already completed a review with the Michigan State Housing Development Authority over the rising costs of demolition, finding that costs rose an understandable amount when the Detroit Land Bank Authority and the Detroit Building Authority strengthened its contractor selection process. According to the article by Helms, Mayor Mike Duggan predicts that the federal government will reach the same conclusion. Helms details more about the city's business practices early in the demolition program and what's known so far about the emerging federal investigation.

For more detail of the investigation, see also an article by Joe Guillen and Tresa Baldas, who reported on the FBI joining the investigation earlier in May. Matt Helms and Joe Guillen were also reporting on the rising costs of the demolition program in October 2015.

Friday, May 27, 2016 in Detroit Free Press

Aerial view of snowy single-family homes in suburban Long Island, New York

New York Governor Advances Housing Plan Amid Stiff Suburban Opposition

Governor Kathy Hochul’s ambitious proposal to create more housing has once again run into a brick wall of opposition in New York’s enormous suburbs, especially on Long Island. This year, however, the wall may have some cracks.

March 20, 2023 - Mark H. McNulty

Large historic homes and white picket fences line a street.

The End of Single-Family Zoning in Arlington County, Virginia

Arlington County is the latest jurisdiction in the country to effectively end single-family zoning.

March 23, 2023 - The Washington Post

Dilapidated vacant wood slat house painted white in Louisiana

The Quiet Housing Crisis in Rural America

While housing shortages in major cities are grabbing headlines, rural communities are seeing higher rates of growth in housing prices and a silently spreading homelessness crisis.

March 20, 2023 - The Daily Yonder

Aerial view of desalination plant in Carlsbad, California

Federal Loan to Support San Diego Desalination Plant Overhaul

The financing will go toward funding an updated cooling system and ensuring the protection of local marine life.

March 28 - The San Diego Union-Tribune

Buses in downtown Seattle on the dedicated 3rd Avenue bus lanes

Seattle Bus Lane Cameras Capture Over 100,000 Violations

An automated traffic enforcement pilot program caught drivers illegally using transit lanes more than 110,000 times in less than a year.

March 28 - Axios

People walking on the Camino de Santiago trail in Spain

The Joy of Walking

An essay meditating on the simple pleasures of a good walk.

March 28 - The New York Times

New Updates on PD&R Edge

HUD's Office of Policy Development and Research

HUD’s 2023 Innovative Housing Showcase

HUD's Office of Policy Development and Research

Urban Design for Planners 1: Software Tools

This six-course series explores essential urban design concepts using open source software and equips planners with the tools they need to participate fully in the urban design process.

Planning for Universal Design

Learn the tools for implementing Universal Design in planning regulations.