DETROIT, Feb. 27 (UPI) –
Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan has pledged to spend $20 million to tear down fire-damaged abandoned structures in the city’s blighted neighborhoods.
In his first State of the City address since becoming mayor, Duggan said “the change has started, and the change in Detroit is real,” the Detroit News reported Wednesday.
The mayor said fighting blight was his top priority. He plans to tear down about 5,000 properties that can’t be repaired, with funds for the work coming from a fire escrow account containing $20 million.
Money in the account came from insurance company payments on burned buildings that weren’t enough to cover the cost of demolition.
Duggan and Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr plan to spend an additional $520 million to rehabilitate blighted areas over the next five years.
The mayor said the city has purchased 15 new ambulances that are expected to arrive by summer and that the city is in the process of hiring 70 more emergency medical technicians.
The former hospital executive also laid out his plans to increase jobs in the city, the Detroit Free Press reported. Major developments he mentioned included the M-1 Rail streetcar project through the city center and a proposed new arena for the Detroit Red Wings north of downtown.
Additionally, Duggan said he would assemble a team to create affordable automobile insurance for city residents, who pay some of the highest rates in the United States.