Abandoned Homes in Detroit: A Solution for the Problem of Urban Plight

A few weeks ago I took my daughter to film a Detroit home I grew up in.  It was for a film project at school.  She would use the new footage with the old footage taken by the exact same 8MM film camera my father used and marry the two film sources together for her assignment.  The house was half burned down and every window broken.  Doors were kicked in and debris was piled high around the property.

So after we left the area unharmed, I decided to call the city of Detroit to learn who owned the home.  I was transferred from one department to another, left on hold for long periods of time and finally given another 313 number to call for the “real estate” division.  I tried calling but nobody answered the phone.  I must have written down the number wrong. So I called back and spoke to the same lady who gave me the “real estate” division phone number.  She read the exact number I was trying to call again.  I told her nobody answered the phone when I called, she asked me to hold on a minute.  With no message on hold music, I waited patiently.  The same lady picked up the phone and answered “real estate.”  I asked about the home at 15091 Mayfield, the home where I spent the first 12 years of my life.  She replied, “please hold”…3 minutes later, she came back on the line.  “The home is owned by the City of Detroit.” I replied, “Okay, how can I buy it?”  She said, “It’s very hard: you have to come down to 65 Cadillac Square 11th floor and fill out an application, which is very long, to get the home on the ‘BID LIST’.”

I asked if the form was available on line.  She replied with a blunt “NO.” Not only did she have an attitude problem, but she also spoke volumes for the City of Detroit’s attitude problem.  “No wonder there are so many abandon homes in Detroit,” I replied, and wished her a good day to which she silently hung up.

Why can’t we offer homesteading in Detroit? I would gladly pay $5000 to buy my childhood home and begin removing the rubble and tear down the burnt portions to gradually rebuild the home to the best of my ability.  If just one home on each block in that square mile of urban plight were repaired, not only would we begin to heal the city but we could also easily put $500,000 into the city’s depleted operating capital.  That’s just one square mile! If we did that to the entire city, we could generate 5,000,000 and start to clean up the city.

I believe we have to think about what we want to come about instead of thinking about what we don’t want to come about. “What the mind can conceive and believe, the mind can achieve” was a great line that Henry Ford would quote from his friend Napoleon Hill.

We have weak leadership in Detroit and that leadership needs our help.  If a program were in place for organized homesteading, (not a drive down to 65 Cadillac Square which nobody from the ‘burbs will ever find let alone spend the time to drive to) Detroit would have a chance to heal. Perhaps contractors would begin purchasing these homes and turn them for a small profit!

Perhaps not-for-profit organizations would help place homeless citizens in these homes and occupy the city with healthy families instead of crack houses and scum. Churches would flourish because people would be living in their districts who had jobs and the ability to donate in the Sunday collections.  Once churches became stable and vacant houses occupied, local businesses would improve because of the need of the local residents.

All it would take to get started is one person on the city council putting a plan in place for organized homesteading in the City of Detroit.  My company Primeau Productions would conduct the advertising and marketing for this initiative and help create awareness of the new plan to rebuild Detroit.

When was the last time you visited the east side of Detroit and witnessed the number of vacant homes?  Wouldn’t it be nice to know that our once thriving city might stand a chance to heal itself by reconstruction? This is not a pipe dream; this is a plan that can work.  It has worked in other countries and it can work for Detroit too.  All it will take is action.

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