Detroit dopers - Why all the burned out homes?

I took my girlfriend and kids out for a two hour tour of Woodward avenue from the Detriot-Windsor tunnel up to the Zoo. A couple of times we veered off to look at the neighbourhood.
What is up with all the burned out buildings?
I suppose that you could welcome me to inner city America but I refuse to believe that all America cities are like that.
I assume that the decline in Detriot is the result of a mass exodus of business and industry.
But why are these building allowed to stand? The owners should be forced to tear them down if not for the safety’s sake.
What a shame. They were clearly beautiful houses at one time. There were many, many beautiful buildings in the city that were abandoned.

Also, what’s up this the steam coming out of the sewer vents?

Where the heck is Detriot? Near Pittsbrugh?

IME, the owners have no money to tear them down.

What owners? Or more precisely, yeah, there’s an owner of record. Except the owner has abandoned the property. How are you going to find them? And since property taxes haven’t been paid in years, this means the city is now the owner. Except the property is worthless, or worse than worthless, since it will cost money to tear down the structure, and once you’re done you’ve got a worthless vacant lot that you literally can’t give away.

If the owners cannot meet their obligation, why can’t the city take ownership? Isn’t this what happens when people can’t pay taxes or pay fines?

Sorry to hear that Pittsburgh is in a similar state. It must be fallout from the decline of industrial America.

Yes, the city can take ownership. Except the city of Detroit is flat broke, and doesn’t have the money to pay to tear down thousands of abandoned buildings. The city is broke for the same reason people are abandoning the buildings–businesses have left the city, and the businesses provided the jobs and tax base for the city.

Abandoned homes often become problems in otherwise decent neighborhoods. Drug users start hanging out in them. Crack addicts set a lot of fires accidentally with their pipes.

A house three doors down from me burned thanks to a renter/crack addict. At least it got the low life out of our neighborhood.

Those aren’t sewer vents, they’re steam vents. In a crowded downtown area (or other clump of buildings like a university campus), it’s often economical to have a single steam plant providing heating for all of the buildings, rather than a separate furnace/boiler/whatever in each building.

It sounds as though everyone should throw up their hands in defeat and leave the city to the wolves.
I can’t believe that any mayor would allow their city to decay to such a point. Shame.
And I don’t agree that a vacant lot has the same value as a burned out building. Certainly property values would increase if this scrap could be removed.
Also, Detroit must be property rich. Surely, it could turn this asset into something.

I can’t tell if some of what you are saying is a joke but you do realize that Detroit is a very special case of post-industrial flight and urban decay don’t you? It is, like, really famous for that. There are whole documentaries, movies, books, magazine articles, and web sites that go in depth into the reasons for its decline and what can possible be done to fix some of it. It isn’t a case of one person or group simply not noticing that there are some abandoned buildings around. It is a complex, unique, and infamous urban case study. If you want to learn more about what caused it, we could point you in the right direction. Detroit is not typical America by any stretch. It is almost synonymous with urban nightmare.

P.S. Pittsburgh is doing quite well. Someone else was poking fun at you for misspelling Detroit when that comment was made and you missed the intent.

You can’t be property rich no matter how much you have unless it is worth something and someone wants to buy it from you. You can literally buy a large habitable house or building in Detroit for a few thousand dollars. Still, most people have no use for it so many of the properties are literally worthless or have negative worth.

Who wants to buy a vacant lot in Detroit? Even if someone gave it to you for free, what are you going to do with it? Build a house? Except there are plenty of already existing houses you can buy for a lot cheaper than it would cost to build a new house. People have left Detroit in masses. The city population has shrunk by more than half, and this is because all the industrial jobs are gone. So you can move to Detroit tomorrow and buy a decent house for super-cheap, but where are you going to work? Seriously, you can look into it and you’ll find that the city is just about giving away thousands and thousands of buildings that have reverted to the city due to non-payment of taxes. But do you want a house where the neighbor on your left is a burnt-out shell, and the neighbor on your right is abandoned and inhabited by squatters, and the family in the house across the street hasn’t had a wage-earner since 1997? Even you can get title to the house just for asking?

One of the major efforts in Detroit is to raze whole sections of the city and let it revert to wilderness, because it’s a lot cheaper to provide services for one fully populated area and let the other go than it is to provide services for two half-populated areas. They’re trying to get people in really bad areas to swap houses into areas that are OK, and then just raze the whole abandoned area.

No, I wasn’t kidding. I live near Toronto so it was like entering a different world.
Somebody really messed up to let that happen.
Good to hear that it is only a Detroit thing. (I spelled it right that time).
Thanks for all the posts.

You’re missing the point. It’s not “somebody” that screwed up. It’s this whole nightmare trainwreck of a situation that people saw coming slowly for a long time but were pretty much powerless to prevent. There was no magic turning point or single bone-headed decision.

Even a clean and sober squatter could well light a fire to try to stay warm. It is Detroit, and abandoned houses don’t have gas or electric power. All the safer ways to create heat like kerosene or propane heaters need expensive fuel.

Maybe they should use Detroit as a set for post-apocalyptic movies…

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Many times homes in slum or depressed ares of a city turn into a liability for the owners because they find that they can neither rent nor sell the property. They may face a mortgage and certainly are required to pay property taxes but most carry some type of property insurance.

Often, when the owners realize they’re on a financial downward spiral, the property experiences a friction fire. This is a direct result of their debts rubbing against their insurance policy.


“Only a Detroit thing?” never been to Gary, Indiana, I take it.

Too late; that’s been done. They elected the Alpha Wolf mayor. :mad: Now the decent guy is left to pick up the pieces. :frowning: