Led by Senators Stabenow, Peters and Congressman Kildee, Members of Michigan Delegation Announce New Opportunities to Revitalize Cities, Neighborhoods

New Flexibility Makes Up to $2 Billion Available to Help Continue Blight Removal Efforts

Thursday, December 17, 2015

U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), U.S. Senator Gary Peters (D-MI) and Congressman Dan Kildee (D-MI), along with Congresswoman Candice Miller (R-MI), Congressman John Conyers (D-MI) and Congresswoman Brenda Lawrence (D-MI) today announced new opportunities to help cities across Michigan and the country revitalize neighborhoods and keep communities safe. The end-of-year spending bill, which will fund the federal government through September 2016, gives the U.S. Department of Treasury the flexibility to transfer as much as $2 billion in additional funding to the Hardest Hit Fund. The Hardest Hit Fund provides resources to states for blight removal efforts and to help struggling homeowners. Michigan has received $498.6 million since the Fund was established in 2010. Senators Stabenow, Peters and Rep. Kildee led the bipartisan effort to include this new opportunity for funding in the end-of-year deal.

“We are seeing real progress in communities across our state from federal blight removal resources,” said Senator Stabenow. “This new flexibility is a huge win for Michigan cities and neighborhoods and will keep the momentum going to revitalize our communities and make sure our neighborhoods are safe places to raise a family.”

“The Hardest Hit Fund has been a vital resource for cities across Michigan working to remove blight, improve safety and increase property values in their neighborhoods,” said Senator Peters. “This new option to transfer funding and shore up the Hardest Hit Fund will allow Michigan communities to continue these efforts and attract new private investments to help their communities grow."

“Getting rid of abandoned homes in cities like Flint, Saginaw and Detroit helps to strengthen neighborhoods and decrease crime,” said Congressman Kildee. “We have already made great progress in removing blight from our communities and this new flexibility will help to unlock more economic opportunity for all Michiganders.”

"I am elated that the Department of the Treasury will have the option to bolster the crucial Hardest Hit Fund, a program I have long supported and which has already disbursed over $300 million through the Step Forward Michigan program to keep families in their homes. Over 28,000 Michiganders have received assistance from the program, including nearly 9,000 residents of Wayne County, and countless neighborhoods have benefited from additional efforts to combat blight,” said Congressman John Conyers, Jr. “With a potential new funding boost, the Hardest Hit Fund could continue to provide an essential safety net for struggling homeowners and communities. I thank President Obama and Treasury Secretary Lew for their past work to support Detroit, and I urge them to maintain their commitment to Michigan’s economic recovery.”

“I have strongly supported the use of federal funds to strike at the blight that has weakened too many neighborhoods and communities within our cities,“ said Congresswoman Lawrence. “As the congressional representative for Detroit, which has identified more than 84,000 properties beyond repair, and Pontiac, which has an estimated 400 locations awaiting demolition, one of my primary concerns has been the number of abandoned homes and businesses within my District. I have also seen, firsthand, how these federal funds can empower our communities and provide the resources needed to rebuild and prosper. As of October 28, 2015, U.S. Treasury has allowed the dedication of more than $300 million to Detroit for blight removal and awarded $3.7 million in federal blight removal funds to the City of Pontiac in 2013. I look forward to continued support from the Treasury for Detroit and Pontiac, and throughout our state.”

Earlier this year, Senator Stabenow, Senator Peters and Congressman Kildee led the effort to stop a proposed $1.7 billion cut in the Hardest Hit Fund. Cities that have benefited from this fund include Detroit, Adrian, Ecorse, Flint, Grand Rapids, Hamtramck, Highland Park, Inkster, Ironwood, Jackson, Lansing, Muskegon Heights, Pontiac, Port Huron, River Rouge, and Saginaw.