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Development News

Intensive property survey captures state of Detroit housing, vacancy



The Data Collaborative, a joint effort by the Detroit Office of Foreclosure Prevention and Response, Community Legal Resources and Data Driven Detroit, has completed a landmark survey of residential properties in Detroit, and the results indicate that 86% of the city's single-family homes appear to be in good condition and another 9% generally only need minor repairs -- meaning that more than 218,000, or 95%, of the city's single-family homes appear to be suitable for occupancy.

While this number sounds heartening, Heidi Mucherie, executive director of Community Legal Resources, urges some restraint in interpreting the numbers. "We have some good-condition housing stock, an asset that we don't fully realize as an asset, and I'm glad that the study substantiates that," she says. However, she points out that large areas of the city have nowhere near these statistics. "This is a citywide aggregate number, and while we might be tempted to say things aren't as bad as we thought they are, (conditions have) changed over the last 10 years, even in traditionally stronger neighborhoods, and I worry about the aggregate figures painting too rosy of a picture."

A statistic that bears out Mucherie's temperance is that 26% of the city's residential parcels -- or 91,000 lots -- are now vacant. But she believes that knowing the good and the bad of where the city currently stands is empowering. "The way I've been thinking about it is that it paints a picture of a moment in time. ... It's only the start, not the ultimate answer," she says. "(These communities are) changing daily, especially neighborhoods hit by foreclosures."

Mucherie says the data collected is only as good as its upkeep and the community's buy-in, as in getting the "community engaged to collect updated information and track how it changes over period of time," she says. "One snapshot in time is not going to provide the answer for very long, but I'm excited about it changing the conversation."

Interested in checking out information about your house, block and neighborhood? Information is easily accessed by visiting www.detroitparcelsurvey.org and typing in a residential property address.

Source: Heidi Mucherie, Community Legal Resources
Writer: Kelli B. Kavanaugh

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