07/28/14 — City foots the bill for tearing down homes

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City foots the bill for tearing down homes

By From staff reports
Published in News on July 28, 2014 1:46 PM

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A crew from AK Grading & Demolition of Goldsboro removes objects from the pile of wood that was once a home at 306 West Grantham that caught on fire over a year ago.

Each year, the Goldsboro Community Development Department allocates funding to tear down damaged or dilapidated houses across the city for owners in need.

The owners know that their houses need to be torn down, but can't afford to do it themselves, and need help to demolish the properties.

This year, the department has allocated a little more than $31,000 to demolish dwellings and to clear the properties in the city's low income areas.

The city pays to demolish the dwellings through a Community Development program, which is funded by Community Development Block Grant funds, put in place to ensure owners who cannot afford to demolish unfit dwellings have an option to pay for the demolition.

If the properties were demolished through the city's minimum housing process, administered by the city Inspections Department, then the cost of the demolition would be the responsibility of the owner. If the bill is not paid, then the property would go into collections and then foreclosure, with the city taking ownership of the property.

Not all of the houses on the list are owned by the original deed holders. Some have been left to heirs, said Shycole Simpson Carter, community development administrator.

"A parent lived there and left them the home and it is in disrepair, but the home isn't feasible for rehab," Mrs. Carter said. "Sometimes they want to clear the old house out to try and build another home."

The funds offer the families relief and the city the chance to turn an eyesore into a viable property, she said.

"We try to help eliminate the burden on family members as well as give people the opportunity to do something with that land to return it to the tax base."

Chief Building Codes Inspector Allen Anderson Jr. said the city does not want to tear down people's dwellings or own the properties, but aims to reduce blight in the city, making what the Community Development Department does a step toward that goal.

At the direction of the City Council, the Inspections Department appropriates money each year to demolish dwellings that are unfit for human habitation.

Having more dilapidated houses demolished through the Community Development funding stretches the Inspections budget further, Anderson said, leaving more money to tackle other properties that need to be addressed.

A new partnership between Inspections and Community Development has made it easier for officials to get in touch with those in need.

"From my standpoint it is a great relationship," Anderson said. "That is what the funds are for, dealing with dilapidated shelters and rehabilitating structures in the city. A large portion of those funds go to demolishing these properties."

Anderson said that a large number of the houses his department deals with cross over into the areas that Community Development deals with as well.

"We work in a lot of the same areas, the low- to moderate-income areas of the city," he said. "That property on Grantham Street is a perfect example. If Community Development can help them out, and they can keep their property, that is a really good thing."

Anderson said now it has become second nature to direct property owners to Community Development when their dwelling is beyond repair and they cannot afford the demolition.

Community Development tears down about eight houses during the course of a normal year.

"They have to be located in the low- to moderate-income area and have to be low income to be eligible for us to determine their property is able to be demolished," Mrs. Carter said. "On average we are doing seven to eight a year, and we expect to increase this year to eight or nine. The majority are where individuals come in to apply for the program after going through inspections."