As first reported by the Free Press on Wednesday, Duggan also announced he was speeding up the spending of $20 million in unspent insurance industry funds set aside for demolition of fire-damaged vacant homes, an amount that could cover the cost of tearing down 2,300 blighted houses in the city. It’s money that was included in emergency manager Kevyn Orr’s proposed bankruptcy plan of adjustment last week that calls for spending $520 million over the next six years to tear down as many as 80,000 vacant structures at a rate of as many as 450 a week.And thankfully the cheerleading by this mayor is being lauded, hopefully this may make a difference for Detroit. Even if it takes decades to rebuild what was lost in the past 50 or so years.
Duggan also urged state lawmakers to quickly act on legislation to crack down on scrap-metal operators who buy goods stripped from buildings, streetlights and cars. A bill in the state House would require scrap operators to take photos of the sellers and pay them by check mailed to an address. Widespread scrapping is blamed for malfunctioning city streetlights, stripped vacant homes and other costly damage to public and private properties.
In other efforts, Duggan said his administration is focused on encouraging job opportunities for Detroiters, including in major developments such as the M-1 Rail streetcar project on Woodward from downtown to the New Center and on the proposed new Detroit Red Wings arena just north of downtown. He also said a team he assembled is working on a proposal for the city to create an affordable auto insurance option for Detroiters, who now pay some of the nation’s highest car insurance premiums.
No matter their driving records, “most Detroiters are paying more per month for car insurance than they are for their cars themselves,” Duggan said, noting his family’s car insurance bill rose to $6,000 a year from less than $3,000 after he moved to the city in 2012.