This goes to the essence of mainstream economic theory: Spend money to build houses, spend money to tear them down, spend money to build them, spend money to tear them down…and let it all be counted in the GDP numbers as “growth” and “jobs”:
One of the question haunting Detroit, as it works to extricate itself from bankruptcy, is how to address the reality of the city’s shrinking population…Today, a much-anticipated report from the city’s Blight Removal Task Force says that more than one in five structures is in some state of disrepair—and that about half of these should be torn down immediately…
It can take as little as three hours to demolish a house, but the process can be more consuming if properties contain asbestos or lead, thereby requiring extra care. Tearing down homes by the tens of thousands, which hasn’t been done before, could cost about $800 million, the report says. While the city has already obtained some blight-reduction funding from federal and state sources, it still needs at least a further $400 million. (That doesn’t include the additional $1 billion or so Detroit will need to address commercial and industrial eyesores.)
It’s astounding that, in a nation where homes are unaffordable for many people and the home ownership rate is declining, Detroit is still so unlivable and badly-run a place that they have vast numbers of homes to tear down.