Gordon Young

Gordon Young worked with a group of Flint residents in 2014 to raise more than $11,000 via an Indiegogo crowdfunding campaign to demolish an abandoned, burned-out house on an otherwise healthy block in the city’s North End. The money enabled the Genesee County Land Bank Authority to tear down the structure at 6608 Parkbelt Drive and deed the lot to a neighbor who will maintain it.

Like a lot of Rust Belt cities, Flint has suffered through deindustrialization and all the problems that come with it. The birthplace of General Motors had one of the highest per capita income levels in the nation in the sixties. But after losing more than 70,000 automotive jobs, Flint has struggled with population loss, budget cuts, and unemployment. Thousands of abandoned houses attract crime, depress property values, and destabilize neighborhoods.

Getting rid of one house won’t solve all of Flint’s problems, but it will be a huge help to dedicated Parkbelt homeowners like Paulette Mayfield and Crystal Ashburn, who watched the house decay, attract squatters and drug users, and ultimately catch on fire.

“One abandoned and blighted house on a well-maintained block can destabilize the whole neighborhood,” said Doug Weiland, executive director of the local land bank. “Demolishing this newly foreclosed house sooner rather than later will help to stem the cycle of decline and send a message to surrounding homeowners that their neighborhood is worth investing in.”

PRESS COVERAGE

San Francisco Chronicle/SFGate: Crowdfunding razes a home to raise up a block
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Michigan Radio: This burned-out Flint house will be torn down on Tuesday
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ABC 12: More than $10,000 raised to tear down vacant home in Flint
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Flint Journal/MLive: Author Gordon Young achieves goal of tearing down Flint house with $10,000 crowdfunding campaign
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WKAR/Michigan State University: Flint expat pursues single home demolition through crowdsourcing
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ABC 12: Fighting blight in a shrinking city
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NBC 25: Flint neighbors, author raise money online to demolish home
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Flint Journal/MLive: “Teardown” author raising money to tear down abandoned house on Flint’s north side
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Michigan Radio: Fighting blight, one house at a time
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