Survey to assess Highland Park, Hamtramck properties

Candice Williams
The Detroit News

Beginning Monday, residents in Hamtramck and Highland Park may see surveyors canvasing the streets — smartphone in hand — to capture images and assess the conditions of 13,000 parcels in both cities.

The week-long effort using Motor City Mapping technology follows an initial survey of Detroit in 2013.

“It’s going to be one more tool for us in our goal to have a safe and clean Hamtramck,” Kathy Angerer, director of community and economic development for Hamtramck, said Friday. “We’ll be able to identify blight first and come up with our very scarce resources and target them in our neighborhood.”

The Skillman Foundation and Kresge Foundation are funding the project, with support from Loveland Technologies, Rock Ventures and Data Driven Detroit.

Twenty paid surveyors and several community members will gather property condition data for each parcel in both cities: 6,700 in Hamtramck and 6,600 in Highland Park. They’ll use a “blexting” (blight + texting) app on a smart phone or tablet to take photos of each house and vacant parcel. Surveyors will answer questions about each parcel including if the property is occupied, fire damaged of if there’s dumping.

Those interested in submitting data can download the free “blexting” app available for iOS and Android. Surveyors will gather a baseline of data and community members are encouraged to update the information long after the survey’s end, said Lauren Hood, director of community engagement for Loveland Technologies.

“If you live in that neighborhood and there’s a change in property condition, you can document it yourself,” Hood said.

They’re not just looking for blight updates.

“We also like to track things like rehab,” Hood said.

The photos and property condition information will be entered into the Motor City Mapping database and made available publicly at

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