How to handle dilapidated housing

News

DECATUR — City leaders say they’re trying to figure out the best way to get rid of dilapidated homes around town. People say it’s an issue which is only getting worse.

Monday night, they’ll hear a plan on handling the 120-homes on the demolition list. One councilman says the problem has grown since many left during the 2008 economic crisis.

He says fixing the problem has been a priority for years. Up and down Prairie Street, you’ll find boarded up, crumbling homes.

Some say, “No trespassing” signs on the homes don’t seem to hold much meaning.

“This house has been here forever and, I know a lot of things that have happened in this house.”

He’s glad to hear the city is taking action to get rid of houses like it. Bill Faber says it’s been a priority since day one on the city council.

“Although the intention is there for neighborhood redevelopment, the question you pose is an extraordinarily important one: Where is the money going to come from?”

He says gambling tax money is earmarked for projects like this, but when you multiple 120 homes by the average demolition price of at least $7,000, tax dollars might not cover it.

“We have a real problem here. Our sales tax revenue is down from last year. I am not optimistic that it is going to increase. It appears to me that, if anything, our budget is going to have to be reduced, not expanded, in the next three-to-five years.”

Faber expects money will be the main question as the plan is proposed. Others say their main question is when.

“Houses like that are not savable. Just tear it down and be done.”

The council will not take any action at the study session. After the proposal, council and audience members will have the chance to ask questions. 

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