FLINT, Michigan —
The federal government is pouring a staggering amount of money into the city in an attempt to revitalize a city ravaged by foreclosures and an astonishing rate of abandonment.
In addition to the $25 million neighborhood stabilization grant announced this week, the federal government has given the city almost $12 million over the past three years to knock down houses and revitalize neighborhoods.
“The city of Flint has a tremendous need,” said Flint Mayor Dayne Walling. “Some of the highest rates of foreclosure in the country are here, but this investment also shows there’s confidence from federal and state levels.”
Perhaps a sign of the foreclosure crisis’ devastating impact on Flint, Walling said the city received more cash per capita from this most recent award than Detroit, which has seven times the population of Flint.
The $25-million award is the largest single award that Flint has ever had access to for neighborhood stabilization, former county Treasurer Daniel T. Kildee has said.
The stimulus grant will be divided between the city and the Genesee County Land Bank to be used for demolishing and rehabilitating foreclosed homes.
The amount to each has not yet been decided, city officials said.
Walling said the dollars will be focused on four parts of the city where mortgage and tax foreclosures are high: an area bounded by Carpenter, Pierson, Clio roads and Dupont Street; an area bounded by Carpenter and Pierson roads, Dort Highway and Saginaw Street; an area around the Delphi complex, east of Dort Highway; and the University Avenue corridor area, including Hurley Medical Center.
Walling said conservative estimates show the city expects to renovate at least 100 homes in the target areas and demolish at least another 250 over the next three years.
The neighborhood stabilization grants can also be used for property acquisition.
Flint City Council members have criticized the way federal grant funds have been spent in the past.
A recent project allocated $500,000 to rehabilitate seven houses in one city neighborhood.
Flint resident Nayyirah Shariff has said the city has a history of focusing on Carriage Town, and she hopes more neighborhoods will see grant funding.
“Is there a strategy to withhold funds (from other neighborhoods)?” she said.
City Council President Delrico Loyd, who represents some of the targeted areas, said he hopes the funds are used to clean up the most abandoned neighborhoods in the city.
“Getting the money is a wonderful thing, but we need to make sure it’s spent right,” he said. “We need to tear down some blighted homes.
“Then residents of the north end will be happy they finally have some of the results as it relates to demolitions that they’ve been looking for.”
Tracy Atkinson, of the city’s community and economic development department, said up to 10 percent of the funding can be used on demolitions.
As of this fall, the city had about 1,100 on its demolition “to do” list, with about 300 of those being emergencies, officials said.
Atkinson said the administration will work with neighborhood associations in the targeted areas on how to spend the funds, she said.
“Every neighborhood and block has its own unique combination of challenges,” Walling said. “Every area is different.”
Source: Kristin Longley | Flint Journal