Detroit Mayor Dave Bing plans a concerted effort to bulldoze houses in neighborhoods where the most crime and arsons occur, not just those structures that are the most run-down, the Detroit Free Press reports. Using crime and arson statistics from 2009, officials from the Police, Fire and Buildings & Safety Engineering departments worked to determine which homes were located in areas with the highest concentration of homicides, assaults, rapes, robberies, and arsons.
Bing has pledged to use federal stimulus money to tear down 3,000 abandoned homes this year. The city’s first phase — 1,000 addresses have been identified — began April 1. Second phase addresses are to be released July 1, and the third phase Sept. 1. Police Chief Warren Evans said vacant houses in Detroit easily become the backdrop for shootings, homicides and other gang activity, usually involving the drug trade. Studies in Richmond, Va., and Austin, Texas, show that the chance of a crime or arson doubles on blocks where vacant homes are located as opposed to fully occupied blocks.