Woman calls Help Me Hank about blighted Detroit home threatening to collapse next door

City officials put home on list for emergency demolition

DETROIT – A woman dealing with a blighted home called Local 4 for help when she couldn't get an answer about who was responsible for its upkeep.

The house has been vacant for about 15 years, and conditions have gotten worse over time.

"No one is trying to help me," Deborah Drake said.

She has lived on Glynn Court her entire life and said the now-vacant house used to be beautiful.

"It's boarded up right now, and it has chains where they were trying to shift it back to one side," Drake said.

The house is caving in on itself and bulging out toward Drake's home.

"This is where we're at right now," Drake said. "It looks like it's going to collapse on my vehicles."

She said debris falls off the house, making it a danger to her home, cars and family. She said she reached out to city officials but never heard back.

"We're here, just patiently waiting," Drake said. "That's why I reached out to you."

Help Me Hank went to the home to take a closer look. A look from our Local 4 drone could tell right away that the caving roof needs attention. When the first snow falls, it could bring down the roof.

The house is privately owned by a man who lives in Canada, and while the city was notified months ago, the house was up to blight code back then.

When Help Me Hank got involved, city officials took another look and agreed conditions deteriorated rapidly, meaning they would step in.

"Ideally, we'd like to see owners take care of their property, but when the conditions get to this point, it puts public health and safety at risk," said Brian Farkas, the director of special projects for the Detroit Building Authority. "We'd like to move in and take care of it very quickly."

Farkus said city officials will order emergency demolition when there's a danger of an impending collapse. Since the conditions of this home had gotten so bad over the last few months, it's now on the list for emergency demolition.

"We're moving as fast as we can," Farkas said. "We've demolished over 19,000 homes in the last five years, so speed is very important to us, and we're taking it very seriously."

Fencing and signs are up, indicating the home will soon be knocked down.

"I would buy this land and fence it all the way around -- very nice, and continue to build up the city of Detroit, where I'm going to live the rest of my life," Drake said.

City officials said they hope to get a contractor out to the home this week. Help Me Hank will continue to follow the situation.

Anyone who sees a blighted home they believe should come down can call their city manager or put it on the Improve Detroit app.

About the Authors:

Hank Winchester is Local 4's Consumer Investigative Reporter and the head of WDIV's "Help Me Hank" Consumer Unit. He works to solve consumer complaints, reveal important recalls and track down thieves who have ripped off metro Detroiters.

Derick is a Senior Web Producer for ClickOnDetroit and has been with Local 4 News since April 2013. Derick specializes in breaking news, crime and local sports.