“Don’t take credit and things will get done a lot faster.”
By Carol Cain
Newspaper reports about a girl who feared for her safety on her walk to Denby High broke the hearts of many but gave rise to an effort to address the problem with a new program to be unveiled August 2 by Gov. Rick Snyder and others.
Snyder, local, statewide and federal officials will be on hand at J.E. Clark Preparatory Academy on Detroit’s east side to discuss the undertaking. It will include tearing down 230 abandoned houses near that school as well as sending in state police and social welfare and health workers to help to beef up safety.
“This effort is still in its early stages,” said Geralyn Lasher, spokeswoman for Snyder. “Its goal is to create a public/private partnership that successfully provides safe, stable areas around schools.”
It will start with six schools in Detroit.
Other champions of the effort include Mayor Dave Bing, city of Detroit departments including fire and police, Detroit Public School Emergency Manager Roy Roberts, the U.S. Army Corps., GM, Lear and several foundations.
Brian Farkas, 31, former U.S. Attorney General, read the newspaper articles about Shantinique Skinner and her walk to school this spring and shared them with Bill Pulte, 24, grandson of the founder of Pulte Homes.
Pulte, who is CEO of Pulte Capital, had come back to Michigan six years ago to be part of the reinvention of Michigan and was stopped in his tracks and inspired to help.
They reached out to Snyder, who has made Detroit a centerpiece of his administration and been working with him and others involved in finally fighting the city’s blight.
“Don’t take credit and things will get done a lot faster” is the motto Rick Snyder uses and one I adhere to as well,” Pulte said.
Pulte helped by lining up the Army Corps of Engineering and convinced them to donate software that will be vital to the effort as it documents the status of homes.
“It was used to do the same thing in New Orleans after Katrina,” Pulte told me. “We will be able to get a great inventory of abandoned structures. Never before have we had real time photos and information on these most dangerous structures.”
“This abandoned housing crisis is one of the biggest issues holding Detroit back,” Pulte said.
Other executives involved include leaders of large US demolition businesses, debris recycling businesses, and title/permitting businesses. All are volunteering to help in the endeavor.
“For far too long, people have been tearing down these homes with high costs and little overall impact, so they can receive the credit,” Pulte said. “ What really needs to happen is that we need a focused effort that shows a low cost on a per house basis and impacts the lives and safety of these kids.”
(Carol Cain is the Emmy winning Senior Producer and host of ”Michigan Matters.” which airs Sundays 11:30 am on CBS62. She writes on politics and business in Sunday’s Detroit Free Press. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org)