June 30, 2014 at 9:17 pm

Detroit mayor touts first 6 months, announces program to seize drug houses

Duggan (David Coates / The Detroit News)

Detroit — Mayor Mike Duggan told residents Monday his administration is set to start a program to seize drug houses and attract families “who want to be part of the neighborhood.”

Duggan, who offered a six-month report card on his administration, said he and Police Chief James Craig are collaborating on the program that is set to launch this month.

Under the initiative, the mayor will send a certified letter to homeowners that notifies them their home was raided, and warns the city will seize and sell the home if it is raided again.

“It’s time to seize drug houses,” Duggan said. “It is something the city has suffered badly from,” he told about 200 people gathered at the Coleman A. Young Municipal Center. “We’re going to move in families who want to be a part of the neighborhood.”

Despite not having oversight of the city’s police department, Duggan said he’s working closely with Craig.

“We’re moving in the direction of much closer cooperation,” he said.

Duggan’s message echoed what he told some of the state’s top business and community leaders last month at the Detroit Regional Chamber’s annual policy conference on Mackinac Island.

Duggan also offered a progress report on a number of issues, including:

■ Installing 10,000 lights, with a goal of replacing all lights in neighborhoods by 2015. That’s an average of 700 lights per week. The city recently received $185 million in bonds to pay for lights under the Public Lighting Authority.

■ Maintaining about 256 parks either by the city or a nonprofit group. About 223 were declared maintained after a random check, Duggan said.

■ Improving city bus service. The city, which needs about 225 buses operating for full service, sent out about 190 per day in June. Some weeks, the city averaged about 200 buses.

“We’re getting there, but it’s not nearly acceptable,” Duggan said.

■ Setting a goal of 25 EMS vehicles, a full fleet, on the road for runs by the end of the year. Duggan said the city is averaging about 18 per day..

“It’s getting better every week,” he said.

■ Demolishing about 90 homes per week, with tear-downs expected to increase to 200 by the end of the month. Duggan hopes to increase it to 300 homes by the end of the year.

“We’re going to be able to roll through the city in a way nobody has seen,“ Duggan said.

Duggan also said that for the first time since 2010, the city is cutting more than 100,000 vacant lots. The first cut began June 9 and will run through Aug. 15. A second cut will run from Aug. 25 to Oct. 3.

His signature effort has been his anti-blight blitz to seize and sell abandoned homes. The program has gotten commitments from high bidders that top more than $1 million in revenue.

Since May 5, the city has been selling homes on the buildingdetroit.org website. The first auction generated 88 bids with a high of $34,100. For the past month, the land bank has been selling two homes a day.

So far, nearly 70 auctioned properties have sold for as little as $1,000 and as much as $97,000.

The Detroit Land Bank auction has gotten post-auction commitments from high bidders for in the amount of $1,015,560 as of Friday.

Orlando Bailey, 24, who lives on the city’s east side said he was pleased.

“Nothing but progress has been made, but I’m excited for what’s coming,” Bailey said. “Of course there are some kinks to work out, especially with the bus situation. But he’s done a good job.”

dnichols@detroitnews.com
(313) 222-2072