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Detroit task force says it would cost $850 million for neighbourhood blight removal in city

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DETROIT - Removing blighted residential properties, lots and vacant commercial structures that have plagued Detroit neighbourhoods for decades would cost $850 million, a task force said Tuesday.

The study by the Detroit Blight Removal Task Force is part of efforts announced last year by the administration of President Barack Obama to help Detroit, which is trying to work through the largest municipal bankruptcy in U.S. history. The task force's report was drawn up to help determine which houses and buildings can be saved and which will be torn down.

Blight has "gone on for years" without a "real strategy" and has gotten worse as a result, said Mayor Mike Duggan, who added that a longstanding lack of action is "a big reason for resentment" that residents have felt toward city and business leaders.

State-appointed Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr called it an unprecedented effort. For the first time in Detroit's history, there is a "comprehensive proposal to analyze all the properties in 144 square miles in the city," Orr said.

"This has never happened before, but the issue of blight has been coming to us since the Great Depression," he said.

Business, government and non-profit leaders gathered to share details of their recommendations to deal with abandoned buildings and vacant lots.

Those recommendations include seeking more money from federal and state sources, strengthening ordinance enforcement and requiring a $15,000 cash payment per structure from banks that transfer titles of properties for the intervention required to rehabilitate or remove structures.

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