My local newspaper today carried an interesting article outlining the details of a federal grant program that awarded funds to demolish long abandoned homes in crime ridden Benton Harbor, Michigan. Here is a link to that article for your review:
The fact is there are an increasing number of communities, especially in the rust-belt northern cities, that have been negatively impacted long before the so-called “Great Recession” began; cities and towns where homes were literally abandoned and the resulting tax base eroded. In Benton Harbor the fact that the population has fallen from 20,000 in the 1960’s to only 10,000 today makes the financial fortunes of that city bleak to say the least.
I’m all for clearing derelict property, not just because of the eyesore created, but also it can be the breeding ground for crime and drug sales and abuse. Do you feel the granting of federal funds to remove these abandon homes is money well spent? I personally wonder if this the best use of the sparse funds currently available in our national treasury.
I know the environmentalists will yell like hell, but just maybe the best way to solve this problem would be to permit the local fire department to set them on fire and burn them to the ground. Sell the property for a minor fee; permit the new owner to remove the remaining ashes, putting the property back on the tax rolls.
Also, why it takes thousands of dollars to clear the title on an abandoned property suggests that someone or something is over-charging or scamming the system. The title clearance process should be streamlined and fees even waived to meet the greater needs of the community. I see lawyer abuse here, don’t you?
Just how many problems can we divert to the federal government to solve? If the $7 million dollar grant results in new jobs then maybe this is good, but remember when the 200 homes are demolished those jobs will go away quickly. We need permanent jobs and improved tax revenue across the country.