First of 100 Blighted Homes Demolished in Grand Rapids

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — The home at 738 Franklin Street Southeast has been burned out for about a year, according to neighbors.

Holly Bechiri lives two doors down from the two-story duplex.

“Nobody likes a burnt out house in your neighborhood. It`s not a great thing to see. When you’re on your own block it’s depressing,” Bechiri said.

It’s also a drain on property values. According to county records, the taxable value on Bechiri’s home dropped more than $6,000 dollars from 2012 to 2013. She’s lived there for seven years. Following the fire, she said the abandoned home attracted vagrants.

“We found a gentleman in the winter on the porch of this house, and he was going to sleep there all night in the middle of the winter. So we took him into our house and called authorities and got him some help,” Bechiri explained.

The steady deterioration of the home is now a nuisance of the past. Bechiri learned about the construction Thursday morning. She was relieved to see a caterpillar bulldozing the blight to bits.

“I’m glad to see it finally being torn down. It’s a great neighborhood, great neighbors on this block,” she said.

The demolition is part of the Michigan State Housing Development Authority and Kent County Land Bank`s “Fresh Start Demolition Program.”

“The idea is to increase property value, decrease crime and to stabilize the neighborhoods,” Scott Woosley, MSHDA’s Executive Director said.

About 100 abandoned and vacant properties in Grand Rapids will be knocked down with $2.5 million dollars. It’s federally funded.

“The money was originally TARP money from the federal government. MSHDA got 500 million dollars back in 2010, and we worked with the U.S. Treasury and the governor`s office to repurpose 100 million dollars,” Woosley explained.

The state has 18 months to use the money. FOX 17 learned that all 100 homes should be torn down within a year. Detroit, Flint, Saginaw, and Pontiac are the other cities splitting the 100 million dollars.

Catch two full reports on FOX 17 News at 5 and 6.

Follow Darren Cunningham on Twitter @darrenfox17 and Facebook

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