Beating Blight

Like most of the places on Lyndon Street, Judy Sackett’s house is small, white and boxy. Her lawn is cut, the yard filled with flowering shrubs. A wooden bench sits under a large tree.

But the story of Lyndon Street is complicated. The house next door is vacant. Plenty of structures are visibly marked by blight —their roofs caved in, shells scarred by fire. A block over sits a tract of empty land so vast that a family uses it to ride their off-terrain vehicles. Some of the residents mow the grass in the vacant lots near their homes just to keep their stretch of street looking okay.

Detroit’s blight problem is no secret. But for years, community organizations and city administrations have struggled to find an adequate approach to tackle an issue spiraling so quickly out of control — until last winter, when an army of surveyors from Detroit’s newly convened Blight Removal Task Force set out to catalog the condition of every single land parcel.

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