Governor Snyder Visits Pontiac to See Blight Reduction
(Crystal A. Proxmire, Nov. 2, 2018)
Pontiac, MI- Governor Rick Snyder joined Pontiac Mayor Deirdre Waterman, County Executive L. Brooks Patterson, and Director of Detroit Blight Authority Bill Pulte to celebrate the progress of blighted home demolition in the City of Pontiac.
In 2014 there were 916 abandoned homes that were too dangerous to be occupied, many of which sheltered criminal activity and were at risk of arson. Now there are only 99 left, with a goal of tearing down another 20 in 2019.
“This is exciting for the City of Pontiac and its residents,” said County Executive Patterson. “We’re in the home stretch.”
Mayor Waterman said the demolition efforts have helped to reduce crime. “Five years ago we were in the top ten cities in the country for violent crime,” she said. “Now we’re not even in the top 100.” She said there has been a 40% decline in major crime over the past three years, with much of the credit due to the Oakland County Sheriff’s in addition to the blight control. “We are a safe city now, and that’s helped with development,” she said.
Governor Snyder said there were three things that make communities work. One is quality of life. Two is career opportunities and three is marketing. “Send the message that Pontiac is coming back. Pontiac is exciting,” Snyder said. “I’d encourage you to be louder and prouder about Pontiac. Let’s get excited here.”
Homes have been demolished at a cost of about $12,400 per property. Earlier in the process the average cost was about $11,000, Pulte said, but as they get near the end they aren’t able to do the same kinds of bundling of properties to benefit from economy of scale.
So far $7.5 million in federal funds administered by Oakland County through Community Development Block Grants has been used to remove blighted buildings. $3.75 million has been used to rehabilitate properties to prevent them from needing demolition. In order to keep deterioration under control at other properties, the City of Pontiac recently approved the creation of a Blight Court where a magistrate will hear cases regarding code violations.
Snyder said the progress was an example of good governance. “How do we solve problems together, and not get at the uncivil level of national politics,” he said.
Pulte said 20 homes are scheduled to come down, and that the goal is to have all of the remaining 99 down by the end of 2019.