Bing to cops: Move to city, get $1,000 home, fix-it funds

February 8, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

Here is a spectacular initiative by the City to improve living conditions for residents.

Leonard N. Fleming / The Detroit News

Detroit — Mayor Dave Bing today announced an unprecedented program to entice police officers to move back into the city by offering ownership of 200 tax-foreclosed homes in two of the city’s most stable neighborhoods.

Flanked by top police brass and administration officials, Bing helped detail the program called “Project 14” in which foreclosed homes will be available in the East English Village and Boston-Edison neighborhoods. The program name alludes to police code for “back to normal.”

Officers will pay up to $1,000 for the houses and receive up to $150,000 in federal grants to rehab them. City officials said the homes are in good shape for abandoned properties but need some work.

The mayor said that police officers “living in their neighborhoods have the potential to deter crime, increase public safety and improve relations between the community and our sworn officers.”

“Detroiters want to live in safe, stable neighborhoods and they deserve no less,” Bing said. “This is just step one of many things that we think we’re going to have to involve ourselves in as we bring our city back. We hope it’s a model for the nation.”

As more homes have become vacant and crime has been a nagging problem in the city for decades, Bing said this incentive program is critical to bringing people back. The city has lost half its population since it reached a peak of about 1.8 million in 1950. More left after the state Legislature banned municipal residency ordinances in 1999 requiring workers to live in cities that employ them.

The program is centered on the two neighborhoods, but the city also could offer houses in other ones, depending on officers’ needs, city officials said.

The mayor said the program would eventually be opened up to include firefighters and then provide some financial relief to officers who chose to never leave the city once more federal dollars are secured.

The city is partnering with the Detroit Land Bank Authority, the Department of Housing and Urban Development, Michigan State Housing and Urban Development Authority, the Michigan Housing Trust and other private interests.

City officials did not reveal more specifics as to how many officers are interested or what other neighborhoods are being considered as part of the program.

Police Chief Ralph Godbee predicted the program would be a success.

“Our residents have told us loud and clear about the challenges that their neighborhoods face as more homes have become vacant and abandoned, threatening the stability and safety of our community,” Godbee said. “What we’re looking for is moving back to some normalcy in police-community relations.”

At least 53 percent of the city’s 3,000 police officers in Detroit live in the suburbs and the numbers are even higher for firefighters, the mayor said.

One of those is police officer William Booker-Riggs, 37, who lives in Southfield but is now eying a move back to the city as part of the program. He’s a single father of an 11-year-old girl who, in part, left 9 months ago for better opportunities for her.

Councilman Kenneth Cockrel Jr. said he “applauds the mayor’s vision” and believes the incentive program is a “step in the right direction” to turning around Detroit.

“I support anything that can be used as a way to get people to come back to the city,” Cockrel said. “I do think that we can’t lose sight of the fact that the ultimate incentive to get people to come to Detroit and to stay in Detroit is to fix a lot of the issues that are wrong with the city. It’s to improve public safety, it’s to have streetlights which work and are on, it’s to have streets which are clean and safe.”

The city is using $30 million in federal Neighborhood Stabilization Funds to pay for the program. It includes safeguards that would require police to repay money for the house if they sell it to someone other than a police officer.

(313) 222-2072

From The Detroit News:–Move-to-city–get-$1-000-home–fix-it-funds#ixzz1DOEdVcT9
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