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Posted on Tue, Dec 27, 2011 : 5:54 a.m.

Ypsilanti Township seeks court OK to demolish abandoned, government-owned 'house of mold'

By Tom Perkins

Ypsilanti Township is requesting a court order to have a U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development-owned home demolished because it has sat vacant for 18 months and is now infested with mold.

At a recent meeting, the Ypsilanti Township Board of Trustees authorized staff to take legal action against HUD.

Township attorney Doug Winters wrote in a letter to HUD that building inspectors found excessive moisture in the home, at 254 Kansas Street, which has allowed the mold to grow. Additionally, the home’s sump pump is running non-stop and discharging water out into the yard.

Building inspectors also found that an addition built onto the home was built on top of a deck and fails to meet a range of codes.

"This house has been left to simply rot, foisting another public nuisance on top of the taxpayers in Ypsilanti Township,” Winters wrote.

HUD purchased the home from CitiMortgage, which bought it from a Sheriff’s Department auction nearly two years ago.


254 Kansas Street in Ypsilanti Township.

Tom Perkins | For

Winters noted the redemption period has expired. He wrote in his letter to HUD that he understood that the homes were not left in good condition but said it was their responsibility to ensure that the home doesn’t remain a threat to public health.

“I wonder how long it would have taken Citimortgage or HUD to take the appropriate action to remediate this property if someone on the Citimortgage or HUD Board of Directors were the unfortunate persons having to live next door and deal with this public nuisance?” Winters asked.

The township is asking the Washtenaw County Circuit Court to order HUD to demolish the house and reimburse the township for its legal costs. It's also asking the court to allow it to demolish the home if HUD fails to reply, and to allow the township to bill HUD for the work. If HUD still fails to reply, a lien would be placed on the property.

Mike Radzik, the township’s director of the office of community standards, said these type of cases continue to come “fast and furious” at township staff and said he is hopeful a new ordinance the Board of Trustees will likely consider in January is going to help with the issue of bank-, mortgage company- or government-owned foreclosed homes.

Ypsilanti Township has seen a steady stream of neglected and abandoned properties posing serious heath risks to neighbors over the last several months. Some have become home to dozens of domestic animals and vermin, some have mold issues and others are in danger of collapse.

The discussed ordinance would require owners of properties vacant for 30 days to register the homes or businesses with the township and allow township officials to inspect them. The township’s office of community standards would keep a registry of vacant properties and officials would visit them annually.

The office of community standards is working with the civil division of the sheriff’s department to identify homes as they’re foreclosed and purchased. Radzik said the sheriff’s office holds a foreclosure auction each Thursday and can provide township officials with a list of recently foreclosed homes and their owners.

“It’s another tool in our tool kit in terms of trying to remain proactive in stabilizing neighborhoods,” Winters said. “But most of these foreclosures are occurring under mortgages with Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and the banks that were bailed out by the federal government. It’s going to require a much more global approach than what we have now because the cities and townships can't do it on their own."

He said the township’s high foreclosure rate has forced it to get in front of the issue.

“But we need help,” Winters said.



Wed, Dec 28, 2011 : 1:49 a.m.

Again Mr. Perkins has printed the quotes and opinions of Mr. Winters without verifying any facts. Did he go to the house and see the mold? Because if not it should say "allegedly" filled with mold. (As a local real estate broker I did preview this property for a client and evidence of mold was visable looking in the front window). If he went to the house, did he contact the Realtor who has it listed? I spoke with the listing broker Mark Goedert of Goedert Realty this afternoon and he had not been contacted by or Ypsilanti Twp regarding this property. That amazes me. A real journalist would have called the broker for comment. A township that truly wants something done about this house should have taken the first most fiscally responsible step and contacted the listing broker to see what is the procedure to remediate the mold or get it sold to someone who will. HUD is an administrative agency and as such will have administrative procedures and remedies. If our township files in Circuit Court the first question the Judge should ask is "Did you exhaust all administrative remedies?". If the answer is no, then the Judge has to throw out the suit. This is a huge waste of my tax money and will not alleviate the problem. Please Ypsi Twp Board quit wasting our money this way and talk to the brokers who know how to handle these situations. Grandstanding and making new ordinances without the requisite research will not solve the foreclosure and blight problems in the township.


Wed, Dec 28, 2011 : 3:19 p.m.

This Realtor has been before the board at least 4 times in my career on behalf of my client's. I was informed when I was on the agenda. My former broker has over 250 listings in at least 20 different municipalities. He could not realistically attend all of those meetings. Perhaps if our township called even 1 broker, such as the broker for this house, there may be no need to put it on the agenda. This could be handled by calling the phone #'s posted on the house. That should be the first step not the last step. As a former member of United Way fundraising committee (for 4 years), Safehouse Volunteer, and the New West Willow Association I am not hiding behind my keyboard. I am a proud and active supporter of my hometown. In fact Realtors are some of the most community minded residents around as the perception of our hometown often relates directly to our paycheck and our families support. It is really not too much to ask that if there are complaints about my listing that you call the # on the sign in front of the house so that I may remedy the problem before you besmirch my reputation on the public record and/or sue me. I think you would want the same consideration. P.S. Keep up the good work in West Willow. I have always felt that a subdivision filled with that many caring and dedicated people can turn things around. Good luck.

Monica R-W

Wed, Dec 28, 2011 : 8:18 a.m.

There is a meeting twice a month. Its' called the Ypsilanti Township Board of Trustees meeting, where the board and Atty. Winters regularly discuss homes that are of blight conditions in the community. The best place to air your grievances, would be there BUT.... Attending most meetings of our Board of Trustees, I have yet to see a Realtor show up and say, "Hey, I'm managing that property. Let me work with your board to get his situation repaired." Amazing....what's said online behind a computer keyboard and what's said in Open Meetings. Just shocking, I say.


Tue, Dec 27, 2011 : 10:18 p.m.

Sounds like a call for the Ypsilanti Renovation By Night Committee.... Problem solved...


Tue, Dec 27, 2011 : 9:30 p.m.

So where is the health department , the building inspector or the firedepartment and the EPA. WE need better workers and a cleaner air . rivers etc.. House left WHO pays the property Tax. The Mortgage Company? really like to know!


Tue, Dec 27, 2011 : 9:15 p.m.

I think two or three were torn down in the last few weeks along Clark Road. This was great to see. No more blight on Clark.


Tue, Dec 27, 2011 : 4:21 p.m.

So who is paying the electric bill to run the sump pump? "Ypsilanti Township has seen a steady stream of neglected and abandoned properties posing serious heath risks to neighbors over the last several months. Some have become home to dozens of domestic animals and vermin, some have mold issues and others are in danger of collapse." The bigger issue that needs to be addressed is why this is happening. Nothing is going to change in this township until the reasons for the foreclosures and abandonment are addressed. Everything else is a band-aid.

5c0++ H4d13y

Tue, Dec 27, 2011 : 4:03 p.m.

Tax payer suing tax payers.

Elaine F. Owsley

Tue, Dec 27, 2011 : 3:43 p.m.

A friend of ours once theorized that a lot of time and money might be saved if some kind of mental health group could pair vandals with things that needed to be destroyed - such as this place. If a time and date were set, all the precautions for public safety could be set up and then the deed accomplished. No investigation needed.

Billy Bob Schwartz

Tue, Dec 27, 2011 : 6:23 p.m.

EFO...This is a great idea. I have another that I got from yours. I have seen people charge others a certain amount for each swing at a car or old piano with a sledge hammer. Maybe this could be done with these houses, and the money earned could be used to clear the remains off the lot or for some other charity. A friend had a neighbor who wanted to get rid of an old TV. Every day he set it out front with a sign saying "free." Every evening he took it back into the house. One day my friend suggested he put a sign out with the TV that said, "$100." He did so, and when he got home from work, it had been stolen. Any way to use this approach?

Atticus F.

Tue, Dec 27, 2011 : 2:52 p.m.

Some times when conditions are right, houses get mold. This is not a "danger to the community", and it shouldn't be used as an excuse to kick people out of their homes and take their property. This is gentrification in it's most ugly, vile form on the part of the township.


Wed, Dec 28, 2011 : 2:09 a.m.

What Atticus is saying is that our township board is selectively deciding which mold and blight cases to pursue. The multiple vacant houses with mold in them in Millepointe Sub (Whittaker and Merrit Rd) this past summer were never targeted by our township for condemnation or any other legal action. The houses targeted by our township are in tradionally lower income neighborhoods. It looks discriminatory to say the least but as long as it wrapped up in the words public nuisance it's allowed. Pay attention to these articles carefully and you will see the pattern. Atticus F. has a valid point.


Tue, Dec 27, 2011 : 6:24 p.m.

Atticus, I suppose you want Ypsilanti Township to look like the worst parts of Detroit. How terrible! Your comments lead me to believe you think poor people should live in neighborhoods with run-down, vermin and mold infested homes that sit for years with no one living there. Poor people deserve to live in nice neighborhoods with well-maintained homes. Shame!

Billy Bob Schwartz

Tue, Dec 27, 2011 : 6:18 p.m.

Atticus...Are you going to shoot the dog, or are you looking for moldy mold fakers? :-)


Tue, Dec 27, 2011 : 4:32 p.m.

Atticus F, I appreciate where you are coming from and loathe unnecessary government infringement (local government or otherwise) on rights. But first of all this home is unoccupied. Secondly, the reason it stays unoccupied is do to political red tape with HUD and the banks. I know this from experience as the home I live in now was an unoccupied HUD home for nearly 3 years. If I hadn't talked to the sole realtor who had access to the one key for the home who mentioned it on a whim when we were home shopping, I would have never known it existed. Furthermore, it was like pulling teeth to go through the buying process. Not to mention it needed a decent but not overwhelming amount of work to become a desirable place to live. In addition, homeowners (rich or poor) have property upkeep obligations to maintain property values for themselves and their neighbors when taking on the responsibility of homeowner. If they are unwilling or unable to fulfill these obligations, it is not fair to those who are.


Tue, Dec 27, 2011 : 4:24 p.m.

atticus: This home does not look like a property eager for gentrification. This house has already been abandoned.

Atticus F.

Tue, Dec 27, 2011 : 4:10 p.m.

djack, there is unquestionably a full out assualt by the township against citizen who have lived in that area for years who are now deamed 'undesireable'. You can choose to turn a blind eye to it if you want. But I will not. Kicking out poorer residents in favor of having wealthier people move in, is the definition of gentrification, no matter what way you and the township try to spin it. And this practice is unfair to property owners and unacceptable.


Tue, Dec 27, 2011 : 4:01 p.m.

Granted, there is mold of some form in all homes. But like YpsiLivin stated, its unoccupied, is not being maintained, and repair likely exceeds the value (especially with the glut of abandoned homes and the housing market on life support). Although the home isn't in terrible condition (at least from what the article states), it isn't going to get better sitting there unoccupied and waiting for HUD to look after it. As an Ypsi township resident, I'm very glad to see the township taking a proactive approach on these abandoned homes before they do become a major nuisance.

Atticus F.

Tue, Dec 27, 2011 : 3:55 p.m.

It starts with the township taking away a bank owned property, and it ends with the township evicting citizens because they fail to submit to a fraudulent mold remediation company. Also, by whose standards is this property deamed beyond rehabititation?... I've gutted simmaler sized homes to the 2x4's and rebuilt for under $5000... In less than a week. Maybe the home is beyond rehab...If you believe the criminals that work for the mold remediation companies.


Tue, Dec 27, 2011 : 3:15 p.m.

This is not an occupied house. It is a vacant house, which HUD bought, and has neither resold nor maintained. No one got kicked out of this house by the Township, but the house is no longer able to be sold or lived in due to its condition. The amount of remediation now required to rehabilitate the home exceeds the value of the property. The federal government shouldn't be adding to the problem of blight in neighborhoods.