Tuesday, 21 August 2018 / TRUTH-OUT.ORG

How "Blight" Is Used to Justify Housing Demolition in Detroit

Tuesday, October 17, 2017 By Anne Elizabeth Moore and Melissa Mendes, Truthout | Graphic Journalism
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Our graphic miniseries on housing in Detroit wouldn't be complete without a close inspection of blight -- abandoned, uncared for properties that are portrayed as not only neighborhood eyesores, but extremely, albeit mysteriously, dangerous. Cancerous! Radioactive! And they drive down property values! Blight is painted as truly terrifying. Yet few of us understand how complex -- and profitable -- a blight designation can be.

In our continuing series on the Detroit housing foreclosure crisis we look closely at the use of the term "Blight" and its usefulness in the process of housing demolition. You'll want to catch up on the previous strips in the housing miniseries, Scenes From the Foreclosure Crisis: Water, Land and Housing in Michigan; The House on JunctionOccupied Detroit Home Is Threatened by Demolition: House on Junction II; and all of the strips in the water series, listed here.

Stay tuned for the final miniseries -- on the 143 square miles that make up the city of Detroit -- in December.

For a tour of the city and in-depth discussion of the impact of blight, the creators of this strip are grateful to Nick Caverly, a demolitions researcher at the University of Michigan.

How Blight Is Used to Justify Housing Demolition in Detroit

How Blight Is Used to Justify Housing Demolition in Detroit

How Blight Is Used to Justify Housing Demolition in Detroit

Endnotes:

1. "The Detroit Blight Removal Task Force Plan," May 27, 2014, p. 44-46.

2. Ibid p. 2-3.

3. Ibid p. 57.

4. "Detroit Demolition Impact Report" Policy Brief, Dynamo Metrics, 2016. Accessed October 16, 2017: http://www.demolitionimpact.org/. (The report was funded by The Skillman Foundation and Rock Ventures LLC; Both sit on the Detroit Blight Removal Task Force.)

5. "Can Detroit find salvation through demolition?" Joel Kurth, Crain's Detroit Business, July 6, 2017. Accessed October 16, 2017: http://www.crainsdetroit.com/article/20170706/news/633246/can-detroit-find-salvation-through-demolition

6. "Grand jury focusing on Detroit's demolition program," Robert Snell and Christine Ferretti, The Detroit News, June 13, 2017. Accessed October 16, 2017: http://www.detroitnews.com/story/news/local/detroit-city/2017/06/13/detroit-demolition-program-grand-jury/102816406/

7. "Speedy Detroit blight removal could be endangering residents," Jennifer Dixon and Joe Guillen, Detroit Free Press, Updated August 22, 2017. Accessed October 16, 2017: http://www.freep.com/story/news/local/2017/08/06/detroit-blight-contractors-asbestos/508686001/

8. "2016 Vacant Property Analysis," Loveland Technologies. Accessed October 16, 2017: https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B7DXgi-tw4pSNmdhVkNMX0xnYnc/view

9. "Mayor Duggan blasts data showing Detroit vacancies on rise," Violet Ikonomova, Detroit Metro Times, August 4, 2017. Accessed October 16, 2017: https://www.metrotimes.com/news-hits/archives/2017/08/04/detroit-mayor-mike-duggan-denies-housing-vacancy-is-up-study-says-otherwise

10. "How the Ilitches used 'dereliction by design' to get their new Detroit arena," Tom Perkins, September 12, 2017. Accessed October 16, 2017: https://www.metrotimes.com/news-hits/archives/2017/09/12/how-the-ilitches-used-dereliction-by-design-to-get-their-new-detroit-arena

11. Ibid.

12. Ibid.

13. "Gilbert, Quicken Loans entwined in Detroit Blight," Christine MacDonald and Joel Kurth, The Detroit News. Accessed September 28, 2017: http://www.detroitnews.com/story/news/special-reports/2015/07/01/quicken-loans-blight-dilemma/29537285/

14. "Detroit Demolition Impact Report" Policy Brief, Dynamo Metrics, 2016. Accessed October 16, 2017: http://www.demolitionimpact.org/. (The report was funded by The Skillman Foundation and Rock Ventures LLC; Both sit on the Detroit Blight Removal Task Force.)

15. "How much does it cost to demolish a house?" Khalil AlHajal, MLive, February 19, 2016. Accessed October 16, 2017: http://www.mlive.com/news/detroit/index.ssf/2015/11/how_much_does_it_cost_to_demol.html

Copyright, Anne Elizabeth Moore and Melissa Mendes

Melissa Mendes

Melissa Mendes is the author of Freddy Stories, a Xeric Award-winning, all-ages graphic novel. She received her Master's of fine arts degree from The Center for Cartoon Studies in 2010, does comics-making workshops for kids, has been an art teacher and once worked at a convenience store. Melissa lives in Hancock, Massachusetts. You can see more of her work at www.mmmendes.com.

Anne Elizabeth Moore

Anne Elizabeth Moore is a cultural critic and author of several award-winning, best-selling nonfiction books including Unmarketable (The New Press) and Cambodian Grrrl (Cantankerous Titles). She is a Fulbright scholar, a USC Annenberg/Getty Arts Journalism Fellow, and is the recipient of a 2016 Write A House Fellowship in Detroit. Her work has appeared in The Baffler, Al Jazeera, Salon, The Onion, Talking Points Memo, Wilson Quarterly, Tin House, and in international art exhibitions, including the Whitney Biennial and a solo show at the MCA Chicago. She has appeared on CNN, NPR, Voice of America, and in The New York Times, among others. Her most recent book, from Curbside Splendor, is Body Horror: Capitalism, Fear, Misogyny, Jokes.

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How "Blight" Is Used to Justify Housing Demolition in Detroit

Tuesday, October 17, 2017 By Anne Elizabeth Moore and Melissa Mendes, Truthout | Graphic Journalism
  • font size decrease font size decrease font size increase font size increase font size
  • Print

Our graphic miniseries on housing in Detroit wouldn't be complete without a close inspection of blight -- abandoned, uncared for properties that are portrayed as not only neighborhood eyesores, but extremely, albeit mysteriously, dangerous. Cancerous! Radioactive! And they drive down property values! Blight is painted as truly terrifying. Yet few of us understand how complex -- and profitable -- a blight designation can be.

In our continuing series on the Detroit housing foreclosure crisis we look closely at the use of the term "Blight" and its usefulness in the process of housing demolition. You'll want to catch up on the previous strips in the housing miniseries, Scenes From the Foreclosure Crisis: Water, Land and Housing in Michigan; The House on JunctionOccupied Detroit Home Is Threatened by Demolition: House on Junction II; and all of the strips in the water series, listed here.

Stay tuned for the final miniseries -- on the 143 square miles that make up the city of Detroit -- in December.

For a tour of the city and in-depth discussion of the impact of blight, the creators of this strip are grateful to Nick Caverly, a demolitions researcher at the University of Michigan.

How Blight Is Used to Justify Housing Demolition in Detroit

How Blight Is Used to Justify Housing Demolition in Detroit

How Blight Is Used to Justify Housing Demolition in Detroit

Endnotes:

1. "The Detroit Blight Removal Task Force Plan," May 27, 2014, p. 44-46.

2. Ibid p. 2-3.

3. Ibid p. 57.

4. "Detroit Demolition Impact Report" Policy Brief, Dynamo Metrics, 2016. Accessed October 16, 2017: http://www.demolitionimpact.org/. (The report was funded by The Skillman Foundation and Rock Ventures LLC; Both sit on the Detroit Blight Removal Task Force.)

5. "Can Detroit find salvation through demolition?" Joel Kurth, Crain's Detroit Business, July 6, 2017. Accessed October 16, 2017: http://www.crainsdetroit.com/article/20170706/news/633246/can-detroit-find-salvation-through-demolition

6. "Grand jury focusing on Detroit's demolition program," Robert Snell and Christine Ferretti, The Detroit News, June 13, 2017. Accessed October 16, 2017: http://www.detroitnews.com/story/news/local/detroit-city/2017/06/13/detroit-demolition-program-grand-jury/102816406/

7. "Speedy Detroit blight removal could be endangering residents," Jennifer Dixon and Joe Guillen, Detroit Free Press, Updated August 22, 2017. Accessed October 16, 2017: http://www.freep.com/story/news/local/2017/08/06/detroit-blight-contractors-asbestos/508686001/

8. "2016 Vacant Property Analysis," Loveland Technologies. Accessed October 16, 2017: https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B7DXgi-tw4pSNmdhVkNMX0xnYnc/view

9. "Mayor Duggan blasts data showing Detroit vacancies on rise," Violet Ikonomova, Detroit Metro Times, August 4, 2017. Accessed October 16, 2017: https://www.metrotimes.com/news-hits/archives/2017/08/04/detroit-mayor-mike-duggan-denies-housing-vacancy-is-up-study-says-otherwise

10. "How the Ilitches used 'dereliction by design' to get their new Detroit arena," Tom Perkins, September 12, 2017. Accessed October 16, 2017: https://www.metrotimes.com/news-hits/archives/2017/09/12/how-the-ilitches-used-dereliction-by-design-to-get-their-new-detroit-arena

11. Ibid.

12. Ibid.

13. "Gilbert, Quicken Loans entwined in Detroit Blight," Christine MacDonald and Joel Kurth, The Detroit News. Accessed September 28, 2017: http://www.detroitnews.com/story/news/special-reports/2015/07/01/quicken-loans-blight-dilemma/29537285/

14. "Detroit Demolition Impact Report" Policy Brief, Dynamo Metrics, 2016. Accessed October 16, 2017: http://www.demolitionimpact.org/. (The report was funded by The Skillman Foundation and Rock Ventures LLC; Both sit on the Detroit Blight Removal Task Force.)

15. "How much does it cost to demolish a house?" Khalil AlHajal, MLive, February 19, 2016. Accessed October 16, 2017: http://www.mlive.com/news/detroit/index.ssf/2015/11/how_much_does_it_cost_to_demol.html

Copyright, Anne Elizabeth Moore and Melissa Mendes

Melissa Mendes

Melissa Mendes is the author of Freddy Stories, a Xeric Award-winning, all-ages graphic novel. She received her Master's of fine arts degree from The Center for Cartoon Studies in 2010, does comics-making workshops for kids, has been an art teacher and once worked at a convenience store. Melissa lives in Hancock, Massachusetts. You can see more of her work at www.mmmendes.com.

Anne Elizabeth Moore

Anne Elizabeth Moore is a cultural critic and author of several award-winning, best-selling nonfiction books including Unmarketable (The New Press) and Cambodian Grrrl (Cantankerous Titles). She is a Fulbright scholar, a USC Annenberg/Getty Arts Journalism Fellow, and is the recipient of a 2016 Write A House Fellowship in Detroit. Her work has appeared in The Baffler, Al Jazeera, Salon, The Onion, Talking Points Memo, Wilson Quarterly, Tin House, and in international art exhibitions, including the Whitney Biennial and a solo show at the MCA Chicago. She has appeared on CNN, NPR, Voice of America, and in The New York Times, among others. Her most recent book, from Curbside Splendor, is Body Horror: Capitalism, Fear, Misogyny, Jokes.