When a city has 15,000 abandoned homes, it’s more than an eyesore. It’s a problem that can make a neighborhood more dangerous.
Now, a group known as Blyght wants to fix this problem in Atlanta.
Led by concerned residents from Southwest Atlanta – an area where blight is especially troublesome – Blyght is a movement to do more just spend the typical $2 million annually to bring down abandoned homes. It takes more than that.
Blyght is among 11 neighborhood groups that have requested Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed allocate at least $8 million in next year’s budget for this problem, Creative Loafing reported. Of that $8 million, they want at least $7 million spent exclusively on razing uninhabited properties.
“These blighted properties breed crime, destabilize neighborhoods, and keep communities from truly turning around,” wrote the group on its website.
To get their plans heard, Blyght has an insider: Alan Holmes, who not only has worked on the project but is also a member of the city’s code enforcement commission, CL.com added. Holmes plans to meet with council members in hopes that it will sway them toward becoming proponents of a bigger budget for demolishing blight.
Holmes understands representatives of wealthier areas will be unlikely to see Atlanta’s abandoned home problem as something worthy of much more funding, so that will be a big hurdle to clear. To show how bad the problem has gotten, Holmes and his team flew a drone over some of the worst areas in hopes that it would shed more light on the issue facing the city.
Blyght is also working on an app that will allow residents to report city violations occurring inside or around blighted homes. There’s even a Change.org petition to bring more attention to their cause.
Currently, the city demolishes about 100 vacant properties each year, Georgia Tech City Planning Professor Dan Immergluck told CL.com. That’s only enough to “tread water,” he said, as roughly the same number of houses fall into disrepair annually. The added funding would bring down 500 buildings per year, and it would also allow for the hiring of additional public works officers who could help keep neighborhoods clean in other ways.
It’s a tall task, but the Blyght crew believes they’re up for the challenge.
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