As I illustrate in Teardown: Memoir of a Vanishing City, the sheer number of abandoned properties in Flint can be overwhelming. But even a single empty house can help destroy an entire block. It can act as magnet for scrappers, arsonists, and drug dealers. It can be the thing that convinces other residents working to save their neighborhood that it might be time to give up hope and move on.
The owner of this house in Civic Park walked away years ago, leaving almost all of his possessions inside. It doesn't look so bad from the outside, but looks can be deceiving.
In the counter intuitive way that success is often measured in a shrinking city, this story has a “happy” ending. Or, more accurately, an ending that is less bad than some of the other possible outcomes. The house was demolished in May. The lot was deeded to the neighbors in the yellow house, who will care for it like they’ve cared for their own home for decades.
It’s addition by subtraction in Flint, Michigan.