Residents trained to aid Detroit’s fight on blight

DETROIT (AP) – One of the latest weapons helping Detroit in its long battle with blight and vacant houses isn’t a super-powered bulldozer or millions of dollars in funding for demolitions.

It’s a simple mobile app called “blexting” – short for blight texting – that can be downloaded free for Android devices and used to relay information and photos to a massive database on all land in the 139-square-mile city.

The Detroit Land Bank Authority, a software company, data collecting group and members of a team that spent the winter months mapping the city’s 380,000 real estate parcels gave a short demonstration Tuesday for a few dozen people on how to record blight in their neighborhoods.

The data will be used by the city as it plans to demolish or rehabilitate vacant houses and buildings. About 73,000 of the city’s 85,000 blighted parcels are residential structures.

“We actually were going to do our own surveying and then we heard about this,” said Wenonah Handschu, who is part of a community group in northwest Detroit.