The city of Flint is upping the ante in its battle against blight.
The issue has become so dire the city land bank cannot keep up with the thousands of properties that continue to collect trash.
The pandemic has brought in increased blight across Flint, according to Michael Freeman, with the Genesee County Land Bank.
“You know, one of the biggest challenges right now is that you know, we have had serial arsonists and dumpers this year," Freeman said.
They are pushing back and kicking off this year’s Clean and Green program.
“We have actually 10 new organizations working with us for a grand total of 69 groups that will be doing maintenance and management and where we provide a stipend for them to to take care of these properties,” Freeman said.
Instead of relying on lawn maintenance companies, they are hiring the people in the community to clean and maintain their own neighborhoods. Block-clubs, schools, churches, neighborhood associations, and local non-profits are just some of the groups participating.
Flint Mayor Sheldon Neeley is also fighting blight.
“Let's find these individuals that would treat our home as a garbage can and let's stop them," Neeley said.
After more dumping over the weekend, Neeley has increased the reward money to sniff out commercial dumpers.
"It's a frustrating thing. So, I decided to double down for any information that leads to an arrest and a capture of these companies, then that goes with the city ordinance where we will forfeit their vehicles and stop these individuals. $2000 for any tips that leads to the arrest and capture of the individuals on the commercial dumping side up to that amount," Neeley said.
As for Freeman, he said it's not even about making things look better. He said clean and green community groups make neighborhoods safer.
He said they are always looking for volunteers and now they are even hiring for some positions. He's hoping this program will make a big dent in Flint blight.
"This will result in the main maintenance and management of roughly 3,700 properties in the city of Flint. So that's like roughly one-third of the property that the land bank owns in the city,” Freeman said.