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Wednesday, Aug. 31, 2016

Dilapidated buildings sap community pride

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Just a few short weeks ago, I was bemoaning the lack of progress on removing the massive amount of condemned houses from our community.

The Land Clearance for Redevelopment Authority (LCRA) - of which I am a member - had been stalled by limited funding and new federal environmental regulations.

In all of 2012, the LCRA was unable to remove one single property and there are literally a couple hundred condemned properties still remaining.

But now for the good news.

The bureaucratic red tape of the environmental shuffle has now been completed and that means many of these long-standing eyesores are finally coming down.

Recently three remaining properties on Scott Street were leveled and the LCRA now has one completely empty block that can eventually be made available to a developer interested in constructing owner-occupied homes.

If everything falls into place, as many as 40 condemned properties will be removed in the next three months.

That is more progress than recent years combined.

There is still a sore sticking point on the local housing front.

Many of the condemned properties here were part of a massive scheme that ended in foreclosures and jail time for the con men who preyed on our community.

But the banks and lending companies that were part of this fiasco have yet to respond to repeated requests for help in cleaning up our mess which they helped to create.

The banks have been contacted. The Attorney General's office has been contacted.

But the silence thus far has been deafening.

Much of our problem with redeveloping these blighted neighborhoods has been the remaining remnants of condemned houses. Until those houses are removed, it's unlikely anyone will want to build there.

And meanwhile, the houses that do remain near these condemned properties will suffer.

But we've learned it takes time and money to solve our problem. The truth is, we're short on both of those solutions right now.

The removal of 40 or so properties in the coming months is welcome news indeed. Credit goes to those who have worked tirelessly to cut through the federal and state red tape and bring us some relief.

We can only hope that 2013 is a banner year for our community with the removal of many more condemned properties and the restoration of pride to those neighborhoods impacted.

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Michael Jensen
Michael Jensen