The 2010 census confirmed what many Detroiters already knew: thousands of people have migrated from the city in recent years. Some 30,000 homes stand vacant and abandoned buildings litter the once-thriving industrial center.
The Frederick Douglass Homes was not always one of the blots on the landscape. Formerly known as the Brewster-Douglass housing project, the 661 units were completed in the early 1950s to provide affordable homes for working-class people.
The last families were vacated in 2008 by the Detroit Housing Commission as conditions in the buildings became unsafe. Though it's empty now, the complex is frequently visited by police and firefighters responding to reports of crime and arson.
By tearing the buildings down and clearing the land, the city's scant emergency resources can be deployed elsewhere, Bing said.
Adjacent to the unfenced housing project is a senior citizens complex. Some children in the surrounding neighborhood have to navigate their way past on their way to school.
"We have big concerns in regard to our children being harmed or snatched up from people who are lurking in these buildings," said Brush Park Citizens District Council chair Mona Gardner. "It's not secure."