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Congressman Kildee: Federal Funding Coming to Michigan Will Help to Revitalize Cities, Clean Up Blight and Strengthen Neighborhoods

June 6, 2013
Press Release

Working with Treasury Department and State Housing Agency, Kildee Helps to Secure Millions of Hardest Hit Fund Dollars to Revitalize Michigan Cities, including Flint and Saginaw

Congressman Dan Kildee (MI-05) today welcomed news that $100 million in federal funds will be freed up for five Michigan cities – including Flint and Saginaw – to clean up neighborhoods and remove blight. Since taking office, Congressman Kildee has worked tirelessly to secure the Hardest Hit Funds (HHF) for Michigan to address vacant and abandoned properties in communities, both working directly with the U.S. Department of Treasury and also introducing legislation in Congress.

“Today’s announcement that Michigan will receive $100 million in federal funds to clean up blight in communities across the state is welcomed news,” Congressman Dan Kildee (D-Flint) said. “Freeing up federal money to revitalize and invest in cities, including both Flint and Saginaw in my congressional district, will strengthen neighborhoods and unlock greater opportunity for all homeowners. Since being sworn into Congress, one of my top priorities has been to secure this money to ensure cities and towns have the resources necessary to remove and repurpose abandoned homes. I’m pleased that the partnership between my office, the State of Michigan and the Treasury Department has resulted in millions of dollars in much-needed funds.”

In March, Congressman Kildee sent a letter to U.S. Treasury Secretary Jack Lew, asking the Treasury Department to expand the use of HHF, as they did today, for the removal of vacant and abandoned property. In the letter, Congressman Kildee said, “I urge you to speedily move to approve MSHDA’s proposal, the best course of action for Michigan and U.S. taxpayers.” As the law was previously interpreted, it was unclear whether state housing authorities, including the Michigan State Housing Development Authority (MSHDA), could use portions of the federal HHF dollars for the demolition of residential properties. The HHF was created in 2010 to aid states most impacted by the recent economic crisis.

In April, following his letter, Congressman Kildee introduced H.R. 1550, the Revitalize America Act, which provided a legislative solution to reallocating the HHF dollars for Michigan and other hardest hit states. His bill sought to free up to 25 percent of the resources under the program to demolish and repurpose vacant units. Last month, Congressman Kildee also hosted a meeting at the U.S. Capitol with U.S. Treasury Department officials, including Assistant Secretary Tim Massad, to discuss updates regarding funds for Michigan and other states.

According to 2010 data from the U.S. Census Bureau, it is estimated that there are 5,846 vacant residential units in Flint; 40,597 in Detroit; and 2,748 in Grand Rapids. Previous studies have shown that removing blight and abandonment in cities like Detroit, Flint and Saginaw leads to greater economic opportunity for communities. According to a two-year study by the Land Policy Institute at Michigan State University, $3.5 million of demolition activity in Flint unlocked $112 million in improved property values for surrounding homeowners. Additionally, by removing abandoned properties in the community, crime and arson rates are reduced. Congressman Kildee has an extensive background in housing policy and land use issues.

In 2002, as Genesee County Treasurer, he founded the Genesee County Land Bank – Michigan’s first land bank – and served as its Chairman from 2002 until 2009. The Land Bank, which continues to help stabilize neighborhoods and redevelop abandoned properties in Michigan, is responsible for over $100 million in redevelopment in Flint. Congressman Kildee’s successful land bank model has helped to inspire nearly 100 other communities to start similar models to help create opportunity and foster development, including in Cuyahoga County, Ohio, Syracuse, N.Y., and Fulton County, Ga.