bildeWASHINGTON — An effort under way in the nation’s capital could free up millions of dollars that could be used to demolish abandoned commercial buildings in Detroit and elsewhere in Michigan.

Congressman Dan Kildee sent a letter last week to U.S. Treasury Secretary Jack Lew advocating for the federal government to allow Hardest Hit Funds (HHF) already allocated to the State of Michigan to be used for the purpose of removing vacant and blighted commercial buildings. As you may know, Congressman Kildee has been leading the charge in Congress to free up more federal funds in the HHF for demolition of blighted properties in Detroit, Flint, Saginaw and other Michigan cities, having successfully lobbied the Treasury Department in June 2013 to free up $100 million to tear down thousands of vacant, residential homes.

Kildee, D-Flint Township, didn’t ask for a specific amount to be committed to demolishing blighted commercial buildings in Michigan; he left that to the Treasury Department to decide.

But he said — just as with the department’s decision in June 2013 to free up $100 million from the original $498-million award to take down abandoned residential structures in five cities, including Detroit — that committing funds to commercial demolition would help stabilize neighborhoods.

“In first allowing these funds to demolish abandoned residential properties, the Treasury Department recognized the negative impact blighted properties have on housing values,” he wrote Lew on Tuesday. “And it follows that commercial structures in the same communities have an identical detrimental effect.”

The letter comes after a public hearing of the House Financial Services Committee late last month, on June 24, 2014, where Congressman Kildee also questioned Secretary Lew on HHF dollar use for non-residential structures.

Here are the latest statistics on vacant buildings in Detroit and Flint, specifically:

Flint:  6,035 total vacant structures, of which, 390 are commercial. (Source: Flint Blight Elimination Report, March 2014).

Detroit: 40,077 total vacant structures, of which 2,056 are commercial structures (Source: Detroit Blight Removal Task Force, 2013).

You can read more in The Detroit Free Press 

Congressman Dan Kildee Demands Federal Cash to Demolish Abandoned Buildings was originally published on

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