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Detroit Mayor Proposes Program To Lease Out 1,000 Vacant Lots to Neighborhood Groups

Street of residential houses
Mayor Mike Duggan recently announced a plan that would allow thousands of vacant lots throughout the city of Detroit to be leased out to local residents.

According to reports from the Detroit Free Press and Livingston Daily, Duggan made his proposal at the national Reclaiming Vacant Properties conference at the Detroit Mariott Renaissance Center, with the intention of starting the program as early as this summer.

Under the program, vacant city lots would be sold off to residents for a lease period of three years, for $25 per year, so long as a neighborhood block club approves the sale and agrees to help maintain the aesthetic quality and safety of the lots in the immediate area.

According to the Detroit Free Press, Duggan’s program “piggybacks on existing programs” which allow the city to sell side lots to city residents, and to auction off houses that have been vacated due to unpaid taxes. Out of the 43 million Americans that are forced to relocate each year, the Detroit Land Bank Authority has seized and auctioned off 320 houses — although there are still many empty homes that haven’t been auctioned off yet.

The city of Detroit has filed about 1,000 lawsuits against owners of nuisance properties throughout the city so far, with permission from local judges (or from the lot owners themselves) to seize the properties. Once the lots are sold off to neighborhood clubs, the local block clubs will sign an agreement with the city that each lot is used for activities that are “compatible with the neighborhood.”

There doesn’t appear to be any plan for what will happen to the lots after the three-year-lease period is up, but if the program is successful, it seems likely that the lots will continue to be used for things like community gardens and parking spaces.

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