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Bank of America and Detroit partner to fix housing blight

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Bank of America (BAC) partnered with Detroit to provide mortgage assistance and assist with vacant homes left behind after foreclosure, in some cases by helping city police officers buy homes. After a three-day event where BofA sat down with 1,400 borrowers to pursue a modification, the bank announced the partnership. Two more borrower assistance centers will open up in the city. BofA plans to help the city identify 100 vacant properties for demolition and will donate the land to the city for urban farming or redevelopment. Last year, the city scheduled more than 10,000 properties for demolition. BofA will also donate and refurbish 10 vacant homes for law enforcement officers as part of the city's initiative to provide them with more affordable housing. "We are committed to keeping people in their homes wherever that is possible,” BofA CEO Brian Moynihan said. "Our unique partnership with Detroit will also allow us to support a key priority for the mayor: affordable housing within the city for law enforcement personnel, and the disposition of abandoned property to help 'right-size' the city." Foreclosures have decimated Detroit neighborhoods. In 2010, there were nearly 80,000 properties that received a foreclosure filing, or one out of every 24 homes. Prices have fallen so far that the city and the Department of Housing and Urban Development have reportedly offered abandoned REO for as little $1 within the city limits. "We continue to look for innovative ways to partner with the business community to strengthen our neighborhoods and make our city safer," said Detroit Mayor Dave Bing. "I hope this is the beginning of a successful partnership with Bank of America." Write to Jon Prior. Follow him on Twitter @JonAPrior.

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