Fight against blight makes progress - WNEM TV 5

Fight against blight makes progress

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It's an ongoing problem in parts of Mid-Michigan. Willie Casey is pastor at New Hope Missionary Baptist Church in Saginaw.

"It looks bad for people that live here as well as for those that do not live in our area," Casey said.

He sees a burned out building across the street all the time.

"That has to be an eyesore," Casey said.

City officials said they've made a lot progress fighting blight but the battle isn't over yet.

Saginaw Chief Inspector John Stemple said that all happened thanks to a federal grant, but that money, $11 million, ran out in December.

"We estimated about 1,800 blighted buildings in the city. We took down almost 900 so that's halfway," Stemple said.

U.S. Rep. Dan Kildee helped secure an additional $2 billion for the Hardest Hit Fund, which fuels blight removal nationwide.

"It made a huge impact in the city and the neighborhoods and the way that people feel about living in their neighborhoods," Stemple said.

Stemple said he doesn't know how much more money Saginaw will receive from the Hardest Hit Fund.

He said he's exploring other ways to pay for the tear down of more vacant houses.

"We're really looking to go out of the demolition business in the city of Saginaw," Stemple said. "And this is probably as close as we've ever been to being there."

Casey said he wants people to know there's a lot more to Saginaw than these images of blight. He said everyone will see what the city really is once these broken down structures are gone.

"It's a good place to raise your kids. It's a wonderful place to open a business," Stemple said. "And there's plenty of opportunity in Saginaw."

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