Steel, Not Plywood, Protecting Vacant Homes in Detroit Enclave

March 17, 2015

Detroit enclave of Highland Park is using steel instead of plywood to cover doors and windows of vacant homes as part of an effort to better prevent drug activity, arson, squatting and other crimes.

Fire Chief Derek Hillman told The Detroit News that the city has long been exploring ways to better preserve vacant properties. For example, steel sheets cover doors and windows of a vacant house where an 11-year-old girl was raped in December.

“Even before the assault, a priority within the city was trying to find a way to secure these homes better,” he said. “It’s not just, ‘How do we take care of it for now?’ We’re thinking long-term.”

Farmington Hills-based S.E.T. Products Inc. donated materials for the initial Highland Park board-ups. It has been working with consultants who are reaching out to community leaders in Michigan and other Midwest cities to promote the use of steel for security.

Meanwhile, Detroit is considering protective measures. The city has tens of thousands of vacant and blighted buildings. The Detroit Land Bank Authority, which mostly uses plywood to board up windows and doors, said it’s evaluating steel for use on properties identified for the city’s home auction program. It said, however, that additional use of steel could be costly.

“We’re more than happy to talk to companies that want to offer this,” said Craig Fahle, a spokesman for the land bank. “We’ll listen to any proposals that come in.”

Steel security can cost about $1,600 for a house with 10 windows and two doors, compared to about $850 for plywood, the newspaper said. Some property management businesses already use steel to secure units in Detroit. It’s also gaining traction with area nonprofits and community groups.

Topics Homeowners

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