Flint, Michigan — The Charles Stewart Mott Foundation has granted $76,680 to the Genesee County Land Bank to help update and strengthen Flint’s blight elimination plan and coordinate efforts to fight blight throughout the city.
The Land Bank will partner with the Flint Police Foundation on the initiative. Natalie Pruett, executive director of the Flint Police Foundation, said the organizations’ efforts will build upon a five-year blight elimination framework that was completed in 2014 and adopted in 2015.
The work will include evaluating the condition of all vacant lots throughout the city and identifying problem properties and hot spots for dumping. Flint residents can continue to report blight they see in their neighborhoods by using the Flint Property Portal. The Land Bank and the Flint Police Foundation will report back to the community in the spring.
“It’s important to create a plan to raise awareness of the immediate challenges in Flint,” Pruett said. “This will put us in the best position to secure more resources to tackle blight throughout the city, as well as let residents and community advocates know what they can do to help.”
The Flint Police Foundation was formed in 2014 to support the city’s public safety efforts. According to Michael Freeman, executive director of the Genesee County Land Bank, it’s uniquely positioned to assist the Land Bank with moving the city’s anti-blight initiative forward.
“The Police Foundation possesses the necessary data, resources and experience needed to show a full picture of blight throughout Flint,” Freeman said. “We are excited to use the results to guide our work in blight elimination. This is a great opportunity to highlight the successes over the past five years, as well as show that there is still a great need in the city.”
“The fight on blight is truly everyone’s fight. We are proud of the teamwork and the network of community partners that are coming together to clean up our city and continue to move Flint forward in a positive direction,” Flint Mayor Sheldon Neeley said.
The Mott Foundation is one of those partners. The grant to support the work springs from Mott’s Focus on Flint initiative, which launched in 2019. Mott released a report about Flint residents’ perceptions of quality of life in the city and followed up with 30 community conversations to hear residents’ priorities.
“Blight was the biggest concern, and strengthening neighborhoods was the top priority,” said Ridgway White, president and CEO of the Mott Foundation.
Mott announced at the end of 2019 that it would put a million dollars into strengthening neighborhoods and asked residents for their ideas on how to do that. More than 440 people submitted 625 ideas. Mott staff reviewed all of the ideas and, from them, created a list of 70 to vote on. The Foundation also asked residents to say how much money should be assigned to each.
The Foundation announced in August 2020 that the $1 million would fully fund the top seven ideas voted on by residents and partially fund an eighth. The grant to the Land Bank provides partial support for the eighth idea: building upon the city’s blight elimination task force.
“We’re glad the Land Bank and the Flint Police Foundation are eager to do the work residents wanted to see happen with the dollars they allocated,” said White. “And we hope residents will be able to see and feel the positive change they sparked.”
A complete list of the eight projects that will be supported by the $1 million in Mott funding and further information about the Focus on Flint initiative are available at focusonflint.org/updates.