Detroit Struggles to Overcome Urban Blight

This week, Detroit is launching a new crackdown on one of the city's ugliest problems — urban blight. A new city department will aggressively pursue building owners for code violations, in an attempt to clean up a pockmarked urban landscape unlike any other in America.

An abandoned building slated for demolition in Detroit.

hide captionAn abandoned building in Detroit. Painted on it is a yellow letter "D" — it means the structure has been deemed unsafe and slated for demolition.

Marisa Peñaloza, NPR

For decades, whites and middle-class blacks have left the Motor City for the suburbs. Left behind are thousands of crumbling homes and buildings, a sight that's become a symbol of Detroit's economic decline.

Web Extra Audio

Detroit's efforts to rid itself of dilapidated homes and buildings have drawn both supporters and critics, who worry about the lack of affordable housing for low-income residents. Hear various perspectives on the issue from: George Galster, professor of urban affairs at Wayne State University; Amru Meah, director of Detroit's Building & Safety Engineering Department; and Maryann Mahaffey, president of the Detroit City Council.

Listen: An Argument over Urban Blight

Audio produced by NPR's Marisa Peñaloza.

The city has demolished some of these buildings. In some cases, entire blocks have only one or two homes still standing. But some 15,000 more remain — and not everyone agrees that bulldozing is the best solution. NPR's Cheryl Corley reports.

Comments

 

Please keep your community civil. All comments must follow the NPR.org Community rules and terms of use, and will be moderated prior to posting. NPR reserves the right to use the comments we receive, in whole or in part, and to use the commenter's name and location, in any medium. See also the Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Community FAQ.

Support comes from: