We have reached our goal thanks to more than 150 generous funders. But we welcome any additional donations to help the Genesee County Land Bank Authority cover any unexpected costs during the demolition of 6608 Parkbelt Drive in Flint and to assist the land bank with its wide-ranging work in Genesee County. Thank you!
About the project
I’m Gordon Young and four generations of my family lived in Flint, Michigan. This is a crowdfunding campaign to help my hometown and a group of residents raise money to demolish a single abandoned, burned-out house on an otherwise healthy vibrant block.
The money you donate will enable the Genesee County treasurer and the Genesee County Land Bank Authority to tear down the burned out house at 6608 Parkbelt Drive in the North End of Flint and maintain the lot or deed it to a neighbor who will take care of it.
Obviously, this won’t solve all of Flint’s problems, but it will be a huge help to longtime, dedicated Parkbelt homeowners like Paulette Mayfield and Crystal Ashburn, who have watched the house decay, attract squatters and drug users, and ultimately catch on fire. And your donation will play a role in helping Flint transform itself into a smaller, greener, more viable city.
“One abandoned and blighted house on a well-maintained block can destabilize the whole neighborhood," said Doug Weiland, executive director of the 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."
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.
In order to reinvent itself, Flint has to get rid of these houses, but it doesn’t have the money to demolish the thousands of structures that are too far gone to save. What it does have are inspiring, dedicated people who call Flint home. They’ve never given up on the city and they are still working hard to make it a better place.
"When I was young, I loved the early mornings on this block," Parkbelt homeowner Paulette Mayfield said. "My mom was an early riser. She would always get up and sit in the front window and read her Bible. Then all of the kids on the block would get up, grab something to eat, and be out on the street on their bikes. It was a just a warm, friendly neighborhood. It still is and we want to keep it that way.”
This crowdfunding campaign helps one neighborhood continue to be a stable, happy place. It enables Flint to build on the things that are working in a city where so much has gone wrong. And you can help make it happen.
How will the money be spent?
Once we reach our crowdfunding goal, all the money raised — minus the standard Indiegogo and credit card fees of 7-9 percent — will be donated to the Genesee County Land Bank Authority.
The land bank will then oversee all demolition activities for 6608 Parkbelt Drive, which may include permitting; inspections; abatement of asbestos containing materials and hazardous materials; demolition of the house, garage, and any other structures that may be present on site; removal and disposal of demolition debris; excavation and disposal of the basement; backfill of hole with clean soil and topsoil; grading; seeding with clover or grass seed; and mulching the impacted area.
After receiving the donations from our Indiegogo campaign and pending confirmation of the completion of utility cuts by the City of Flint and Consumers Energy, the land bank will complete the demolition of the house within 60 days.
The land bank will also cover any demolition related costs in excess of $9,000.
What happens if we don’t reach our goal?
This is an all or nothing crowdfunding campaign. If we do not reach our fundraising goal in 30 days, all donations will be returned by Indiegogo.
• Crystal Ashburn, Paulette Mayfield, and the residents of Parkbelt Drive: In a city that has witnessed many neighborhoods fall victim to crime, decay, and blight, the homeowners on Parkbelt Drive have maintained their block and kept it in immaculate condition. Given that roughly one-third of Flint is abandoned after losing half its population since the late 1960s, this is no small accomplishment. Paulette Mayfield owns the home next to the abandoned house. She grew up there and inherited it from her mother. She and her sister raised their children there. “I worry that the empty house will start to define the whole neighborhood,” she said. “This is a good, strong neighborhood but we need to get rid of that eyesore.” Crystal Ashburn grew up with Paulette and lives across the street. “When we were kids, everybody watched out for everybody else on the block, and it’s still like that even though we’re all older now,” she said. “We don’t want that to change. We don’t want one house to damage everything we’ve done.”
• Genesee County Land Bank Authority: The land bank works hand-in-hand with community partners to eliminate blight, demolish dangerous structures, clean and green vacant lots, renovate houses for sale and rent, and provide affordable housing rentals and sales throughout Genesee County. Through these programs, thousands of properties have been cleaned, greened, redeveloped, and returned to productive use.
The land bank formed in 2002 to take advantage of state legislative changes enabling communities to return tax foreclosed property to productive use. It has acquired more than 15,000 properties and secured over $73 million in grants to address challenges and create re-use opportunities since it was created.
The City of Flint and the land bank have worked together since 2003 to eliminate blight throughout the city. Although significant progress has been made, the number of properties in need of clean-up and demolition continues to outpace the level of available funding. The land bank and the city are in the process of demolishing approximately 1,700 blighted commercial and residential structures with foreclosure settlement resources from the Hardest Hit Fund and Michigan Blight Elimination Grant program. But after this work is completed, nearly 6,000 blighted public and privately held properties will be in need of demolition, including 6608 Parkbelt Drive.
• Gordon Young: Gordon is a journalist and educator who grew up in Flint, Michigan, where four generations of his family lived. After graduating from Flint Powers High School, he went on to study journalism at the University of Missouri and English literature at the University of Nottingham. He is the author of Teardown: Memoir of a Vanishing City, which chronicles his attempt to reconnect with his hometown and describes revitalization efforts in Flint. Teardown was a Michigan Notable Book for 2014 and a finalist for the 33rd Annual Northern California Book Award for Creative NonFiction. His work has also appeared in the New York Times, Slate, Utne Reader, San Jose Mercury-News, and numerous other publications. Since 2007, he has published Flint Expatriates, a blog for the long-lost residents of the Vehicle City. He is a senior lecturer in the Communication Department at Santa Clara University and lives in San Francisco.
• Alex Benda: Alex is an entrepreneur and a recent graduate of the University of Michigan-Flint, where he studied international business and served as editor of the Michigan Times, the campus newspaper. He is the founder of AKP Productions, a full-service photography and video production studio. He created the video for the crowdfunding video and helped oversee the campaign.
• Sky All Around: Ben Boatright and Jeffrey Vogel founded the band last year in Anacortes, Washington. The duo donated the song “Alamore,” written by Ben, for the crowdfunding video.
Contact Gordon Young at email@example.com. I’m happy to answer any questions you might have about the project.