Columbia Works To Get Rid of Abandon Homes

Columbia, SC (WLTX) — Throughout the City of Columbia, it isn’t hard to find boarded up homes, and people say are bringing down their neighborhoods.

Solving the problem can sometimes take months or even years. For some, it is just an eyesore, but in other cases it can sometimes lead to crimes and accidents.

Efforts from neighbors like Patricia Meeks-Jordan have led to a clearing of abandoned homes in the neighborhood along Spalding and Randall Avenues, leaving behind an open space, and possibilities.

That was not always the case.

“They would come out, board them up. Fast as they board them up, the sun goes down, they break in,” said Meeks-Jordan of the problem.

She says the abandoned homes were a breeding ground for crime.

“They was hanging out there doing their gang thing. Between them, the crack heads, the prostitutes, everybody just kinda wanted to move in, and that was a no, no,” she said.

So Meeks-Jordan started making calls to the City of Columbia and that got the ball rolling on the city’s process for demolition or getting property owners to take responsibility.

“The demolition is a last resort. First and foremost we try to work with the property owners. We really would like to see them rehab the houses and bring them back,” said Housing Official David Hatcher with the City of Columbia.

He says they launch investigations on reported homes, but before anything is torn down, they have to contact the owner and go through the courts. He says it can take a few as seven months for all of that to happen, but in other cases it can take years.

“The main things that really slow us down are if the house changes ownership. We have to start the process over with the new owner. If it goes in foreclosure, obviously, we have to wait for the bank to make some kind of decision,” said Hatcher explaining why the process can take so long.

The City of Columbia says it can take an average of $3,500 to $4,000 to demolish a home. The property still belongs to the owner, but a lien is put in place to help the city get back some of the costs spent on the process.

In the last two years the city has taken down 51 abandoned houses, with about 50 more currently in the pipeline. Still, neighbors who live around the homes say sometimes it is just time for a change.

“When they gotta go they gotta go,” said Fidel Alvarado.

As for Meeks-Jordan, she’s happy to see the progress in her neighborhood, but knows there is still more work to be done.

“We got a nice little clean lot, the ditch is gone, the drainage it taken care of, the lots are for sale and I pray every day for good neighbors,” said Meeks-Jordan.

If you would like to report a home you believe is abandoned you can call the City of Columbia at 803-545-3430.

Copyright Brokerlead 2013 All rights reserved