DETROIT -

The welcome mat to the city of Detroit is the well-known big tire on I-94, but venture into many of the city’s neighborhoods and a big tire problem is evident.

Big Tire on I94

For years, Detroit has been ground zero for illegal tire dumping. It’s an eyesore, a headache, an arson risk and even a health problem.

Since Tuesday, there’s been a huge cleanup under way from Wayne County through the Southwest Detroit Environmental Vision and the Brightmoor Alliance. They’ve been picking up tires in an area-wide sweep.

When Local 4’s Paula Tutman heard about the sweep, she contacted Cass Community Social Services, who uses old tires to provide job opportunities and services to the homeless and developmentally disabled adults.

Tires at Cass Community

On Thursday, Local 4 cameras were there as the tires were picked up to be transformed from blight to economic might.

Hundreds of abandoned tired were loaded up and taken away to be prepped for new uses, things such as door mats and flip flops.

Tire flip flop

The work creates a sense of pride and ownership in the organization’s workforce.

“The good thing I love about this job is that not only do we help people, but we help the environment,” said Paul Gardner. “I’m just so thrilled to be working for Cass because it gives me an opportunity to help the

The products that are being made are directly marketed to the public and sold. The money is used to pay the salaries of the workers.

“It showed me I can be an effective worker and stick with a job for a long length of time,” Gardner said.