orangeleader.com (Orange, Texas)

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July 19, 2013

Residents worry if bankruptcy will better Detroit

DETROIT — In Detroit, it can take police nearly an hour to respond to a 911 call. Despite razing close to 10,000 vacant houses, three times as many still stand with windows smashed and doors ripped off. At night, many streets and even freeways are dangerously shrouded in darkness because tens of thousands of street lights don't work.

This is Detroit, an insolvent city seeking to find its way through the uncertainty of the largest city in U.S. history to file for bankruptcy.

For decades, residents have heard one city official after another vow to improve city services but little would be done. On Friday — a day after the city filed the unprecedented bankruptcy — they were given a deadline.

Gov. Rick Snyder and Detroit emergency manager, Kevyn Orr, promised weary residents that they would see better city services in 30 to 60 days.

"Now is our opportunity to stop 60 years of decline," Snyder said Friday during a press conference just north of downtown.

Though Thursday's bankruptcy filing had been feared for months, the path ahead for the once mighty Motor City is still uncertain. As Detroit starts the likely lengthy process of shedding its debt, residents, businesses owners and retirees nervously wonder if they'll see improvements after years of neglect or if another round of promises will go unfulfilled.

ROWS OF VACANT HOMES

Resident Dennis Talbert has waged a battle to improve his northwest side neighborhood of Brightmoor for years, pleading with city officials to raze rows of vacant homes that have been stripped of electrical wiring and plumbing.

So far, none have been torn down.

Mayor Dave Bing continues with his plan to demolish 10,000 empty houses before his term ends in December, and some private companies are jumping in to tear down dangerous buildings. But it's costly and the city's inventory is too massive to make a real dent.

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