‘I feel pretty good. I’m giving back:’ Demolition department hires previously incarcerated Detroit residents

‘At the end of the day we understand that we’re here to serve the public’

The Detroit Demolition Department has a whole lot on it’s plate since voters passed Proposal N.

DETROIT – The Detroit Demolition Department has a whole lot on it’s plate since voters passed Proposal N.

That’s the bond proposal that aims to demolish 8,000 homes and renovate 8,000 others. Now the Demolition Department (DDD) is hiring, specifically people who were previously incarcerated.

“It’s a great opportunity for all citizens. Returning citizens now can find a job and Detroit citizens will see work being done to stabilize or demolish homes in their neighborhoods,” said Grady Brown, 53, of Detroit.

Related: Detroit woman celebrates demolition of vacant homes surrounding her house

Brown has been working at a home on Ivanhoe Avenue.

“We’re securing the houses. We’re putting plexiglass instead of the wood making sure the house is secure so that nobody goes in and out of them,” he said.

He and other members of the DDD are stabilizing that home. Being previously incarcerate has made it difficult for him to find work.

“I had gotten in touch with my parole officer and they had a job fair,” he said. “We discussed it, my conditions, me just coming home from prison. I applied and I got the job.”

Ever since Proposal N was passed in the city of Detroit, the DDD was given the task of creating a plan to hire Detroiters. They proposed a preference of hiring returning citizens such as Brown.

“It was a no-brainer for me that I was going to make sure that I was hiring returning citizens and providing them with an opportunity,” said LaJuan Counts, the DDD director.

Brown had been lookin for work for a year before he landed the job with the DDD. Counts understands how impactful it is not just to be able to employ people such as Brown, but how it affects the entire city.

“I take great pleasure in knowing that they know that we care. It means that we care you are successful. That you come home and that you stay home,” said Counts. “We are public servants. At the end of the day we understand that we’re here to serve the public. We’re here to serve the residents and ultimately we serve the community.”

And Brown loves the impact his work has on others.

“I feel pretty good. I’m giving back,” he said.

The DDD has stabilized about 830 properties. Nearly 120 of those stabilized properties have been relisted for sale through the Detroit Land Bank.

For information on jobs at the DDD, go here.

Read more about Proposal N here.

Read more: Proposal N would save 8,000 Detroit homes, demolish 8,000 others if passed in Nov. election


About the Author:

Evrod Cassimy is the morning anchor for Local 4 News Today. He joined WDIV in August of 2013. He is an award winning journalist and a six-time Emmy Award nominee. Evrod was born in Michigan but grew up in the Chicagoland area.