Michigan among states using TARP funds for anti-blight work

June 7, 2013 at 10:14 AM
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ANN ARBOR, Mich., June 7 (UPI) -- Cities in Michigan will use $100 million in federal money to help eliminate housing blight, Gov. Rick Snyder said when announcing the Treasury Department funds.

Snyder said Thursday the money -- part of funds Michigan received as part of an 18-state program -- is targeted for Detroit, Pontiac, Flint, Grand Rapids and Saginaw and marks a key expansion of anti-blight work, The Detroit News reported.

"We will be stabilizing neighborhoods with a large-scale demolition of the abandoned properties that foster crime and push down property values," Snyder said in a statement. "Getting rid of these properties will encourage more people to stay in their homes and be part of the effort to improve their neighborhoods."

The Detroit News first reported the Treasury Department approved the novel proposal from Michigan to use $100 million in unused Troubled Asset Relief Program funds for a pilot demolition program. The $7.6 billion TARP program, known as the Hardest Hit Fund, targeted 18 states staggered by the housing crisis and economic downturn.

Nationwide, about 28 percent of the aid has been spent so far, prompting calls from lawmakers to expand the money's use beyond mortgage assistance into areas such as blight reduction, the News said.

The TARP program was designed to keep families in their homes. Treasury Department and Michigan state officials said expanding the program to anti-blight efforts furthers the goal.

"Members of our team have learned as we've dealt with the foreclosure crisis that there is a direct link between foreclosure and blight," Michigan's Housing Development director, Scott Woosley, said.

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