A fascinating blog called GooBing Detroit is using Google’s Street View and similar services to track the city’s decline. It shows the evolution of properties over a span of a several years. In three to four years, many of the homes go from needing repair to being completely dilapidated.
Arson seems to be common cause of destruction. The blog shows one property that reportedly sold for $92,000 in 2005. It was a nice looking house as recently as June of 2011. By this January is was in foreclosure, with nearly $14,000 owed in back property taxes. One of the windows was boarded up and the railings were missing from the front porch, likely pried off by a passerby and sold for scrap. By September the place had been torched.
Aside from the content of the blog, the idea of using already available technology (like Street View) to track urban blight is fascinating in and of itself. Hopefully this information can be harnessed in put to use by city leaders and community organizations that are trying to turn things around.
Currently in bankruptcy, Detroit needs all the help it can get. It’s financial picture is so bleak the bankruptcy judge is pressuring the city’s emergency manager to sell off the Detroit Institute of Arts’ prized collection to raise cash.