DETROIT (WWJ/AP) - A federally appointed task force that aims to help Detroit deal with thousands of blighted and abandoned buildings is getting started on its work.
The task force plans to meet for the first time Wednesday, when its members will likely address organizational issues and other matters.
The task force includes Quicken Loans founder Dan Gilbert; Detroit Public Schools Foundation president Glenda Price; and Linda Smith of U-Snap-Bac, a community development nonprofit.
The work is part of efforts announced last month by the administration of President Barack Obama to help Detroit, which this summer filed for bankruptcy protection.
Detroit has been working for years to step up efforts to demolish vacant and dangerous buildings, and the hope is that the task force will boost that effort.
The city has an estimated 78,000 abandoned structures, and teardowns have been a focus of the last several administrations. Mayor Dave Bing is in the midst of a four-year plan to tear down 10,000 buildings in the city considered dangerous.
Abandoned houses not only bring visual blight and drive down nearby home prices, they also become havens for drugs, prostitution and other crime, police have said. Tearing down houses is expensive, with some estimates at $10,000 each. It also takes widespread organization to deal with surveys, permit processes, taxes and more.
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