Detroit Blight Removal Task Force Releases Blight Plan and Recommendations Today


Data Driven Detroit (D3), an affiliate of Michigan Nonprofit Association (MNA), is excited to participate in the release of the Detroit Blight Removal Task Force’s final report, “Every Neighborhood Has a Future…And It Doesn’t Include Blight.”

Detroit Blight Removal Task Force Co-Chairs

  • Glenda Price, President of the Detroit Public Schools Foundation
  • Linda Smith, Executive Director of U-SNAP-BAC
  • Dan Gilbert, Founder and Chairman of Quicken Loans and Rock Ventures

Eight months ago, the Task Force sought to develop a straightforward and detailed implementation plan to address every blighted structure and vacant lot in the city of Detroit. The three co-chairs organized a team of experts from all levels of government, the private and nonprofit sectors, and the foundation community to provide insight on the topic of blight elimination.

The report uses the data collected from the Motor City Mapping project as a foundation to understand the city’s landscape and create informed recommendations.

As you flip through the pages of the report, you’ll find detailed descriptions and recommendations on how to:

  • Define the overall scope of blight in Detroit;
  • Focus efforts for greatest geographic impact;
  • Choose the appropriate intervention on a structure-by-structure basis;
  • Conduct blight elimination in a way that’s sensitive to environmental and public health factors;
  • Institute policy reform that will proactively address future blight; and
  • Fund blight elimination initiatives across the city.

What is Motor City Mapping?

Motor City Mapping Funders

  • Michigan State Housing Development Authority (MSHDA)
  • Skillman Foundation
  • Kresge Foundation

The Motor City Mapping project was a groundbreaking effort to survey each of the 380,000 parcels in the city of Detroit, implemented by D3, MNA, LOVELAND Technologies, the Quicken Loans family of companies, and a dedicated team of 200 resident surveyors and drivers. For every property, the survey identified condition, occupancy, and use, providing the information necessary to understand the challenge of blight on both a micro and macro scale.

The data from the survey, as well as data from over 20 additional third-party datasets, together created a detailed description of every property in the city.

The survey built on the Detroit Residential Parcel Survey (DRPS), completed in 2009 by D3, in partnership with Community Legal Resources (now Michigan Community Resources), the University of Michigan, and the Detroit Office of Foreclosure Prevention and Response. The DRPS evaluated condition and occupancy for 350,000 residential parcels in Detroit, focusing on single-family homes, duplexes, multi-family structures up to four units, and vacant lots in residential areas.

How We Improved On DRPS

DRPS was an unprecedented effort for Detroit, and the impacts were enormous. Since 2009, the data were a cornerstone of almost every planning process in the city, on both a block and citywide level.

However, as many in Detroit can attest, the landscape in the city has changed in those five years. When given the opportunity by the Detroit Blight Removal Task Force to update the data, D3 used their expertise to improve the process.

The Technology

In 2009, every record was written with paper and pencil, which an analyst then entered into a database. With support from LOVELAND, the team implemented the most significant process improvement – technology. Rock Ventures donated 200 tablets to the project that came pre-loaded with LOVELAND’s “Blexting” app (“Blight” plus “texting”), enabling the surveyors to evaluate properties with ease. LOVELAND also created an online interface that displayed data records coming in from the field in real time. D3’s quality control associates used this interface to review the records for accuracy and provide feedback to surveyors on how to improve their work when capturing future data.

The Method: Resident Surveyors

With Michigan Nonprofit Association’s experience in community engagement and capacity-building, the project hired over 120 resident surveyors, leveraging a relationship with the Detroit Employment Solutions Corporation.

What started as a simple survey turned into much more – community engagement, education, and buy-in for residents in the neighborhoods. The people who participated in the survey will keep the data alive once it goes public, telling their neighbors and friends about the process and encouraging people to get involved.

What’s a parcel?
In real estate terms, a parcel is a plot or tract of land.
What is blight?
Generally, blight refers to abandoned structures within an urban area. The Blight Removal Task Force includes a more specific definition of blight in their report.Access the report here.

The Data

To provide a more comprehensive picture of property in the city, D3 integrated over 20 additional datasets to create the most comprehensive property database ever produced for Detroit. These datasets include historic designation and eligibility, ownership, current and future land use from Detroit Future City, tax delinquency, and foreclosure status, among many others.

Next Steps

In the spirit of open data, all of the survey data are available for download on the project’s website, Check back to the project website as we make more data available for display and for download.

Everyone at D3 is looking forward to the implementation of the Task Force’s recommendations. We are committed to making this information accessible to all and hope to serve as a resource for those interested in bringing about change.

For more information on the Detroit Blight Removal Task Force and their report, go to

To visit the Motor City Mapping project website, go to

For more information on Data Driven Detroit, go to