Bank of America, the country's largest bank by assets, has announced an initiative to demolish one hundred abandoned Detroit homes currently under the bank's ownership, a task that CEO Brian T. Moynihan says will "help 'right-size' the city," according to the Detroit Free Press.
The bank, which estimates the costs at $1 million, says the land plots will be donated to the city "for green space, urban farming or redevelopment."
Bank of America also plans to donate ten renovated homes to Detroit police officers willing to move into one of Mayor Bing's two designated-need neighborhoods, Boston-Edison and East English Village. Mayor Bing hopes to draw police officers -- and eventually firefighters -- back into the neighborhoods they service. Many have left for the suburbs since a bill ended residency requirements for officers in 1999.
Bank of America's announcement comes days after the Census published findings that the population of Detroit, once America's fourth-largest city, has dwindled by 25 percent in the past decade -- and 60 percent since 1950 -- to its lowest level in a century.
That slow exodus, the result of a declining auto industry, has turned once-prosperous neighborhoods into barren wastelands. Last year, the Wall Street Journal reported that then newly-elected Mayor Dave Bing planned to tear down 10,000 abandoned homes. But even that ambitious goal would only take care of one-ninth of the city's 90,000 abandoned properties, according to Data Driven Detroit.
The glut of empty homes have caused real estate values to plunge. In the past year alone, according to real estate site Trulia, the median price for a Detroit home has fallen by 22 percent to $55,353. In Chicago, its metropolitan neighbor to the west, the median home price is $185,000.
Governor Rick Snyder has been on a campaign to reinvent MIchigan since his election last year. "We cannot successfully transition to the 'New Michigan' if young, talented workers leave our state," Gov. Snyder recently said in response to the recent Census numbers. On Wednesday, he pinpointed international trade as the state's focus going forward.