Using the form you can let us know whether you live near one of these buildings and share your story about what that experience has been like. Was the damaged building the first occurrence of blight in your neighborhood – or the last straw for neighbors who decided to move on?
We plan to collect your stories to help us put a human face on a tragic story about a city bureaucracy so broken it would allow residents to live next to rotting homes unnecessarily.
How the Escrow Fund Works: Michigan Lawmakers set up the Fire Insurance Escrow Fund laws to make sure taxpayers wouldn't’t get burned if someone in their neighborhood had a fire and walked away from the property. According to the State Department of Insurance and Financial services,
“The program is designed to provide municipalities with some financial protection against the cost of cleaning up a damaged structure following a fire loss.”
The City of Detroit signed up for the Fire Insurance Withholding program in 1982, the year the law went into effect. Since then the law has been amended several times. The last amendment gave cities with populations of 50,000 or more residents (or cities located in counties with populations greater than 425,000) more protections. Instead of just fire loss, a city like Detroit gets protection from the “perils of vandalism, malicious mischief, wind, hail, riot, or civil commotion.” (http://legislature.mi.gov/doc.aspx?mcl-500-2227 ) That means if a home owner gets an insurance check for any of those things the City of Detroit can put 25% of the settlement into an escrow account until the property is brought up to code or the structure is torn down. The law also says, if the owner hasn't’t fixed up the property within 120 days the city can start spending the money.