City of Charleston allocating more money to tear down abandoned homes

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CHARLESTON, WV (WOWK) — There are hundreds of abandoned homes in the City of Charleston and people are tired of looking at them.

There are complaints about squatters, fires, and drug use and they want the city to do something.
The city of Charleston says it has been addressing the problem but is now they are able to do just a little bit more.

Last week on the Westside, a bulldozer was a welcome sight for homeowner Jim Eblin, who says the abandoned home next to his property was an “eyesore.”

“It had drug people going in and all that and mainly it’s just for safety,” said Eblin.

“I did complain a lot and so did the other neighbors here,” he said.

But it is one down and many more to go for the City of Charleston which has nearly 100 homes on its demolition list, and more coming down the pike.

While most of the homes on the city’s demolition list are on the westside, there are also some in the East End and into Kanawha City.

Over at the City Services Center, they say it’s not as easy as just tearing them all down; there is a process and an average cost of $8500

“What we try to do is we try to rate the houses as to the worst to the best, and we’ll go after the worst ones first, if we have a burnout or something collapses, something that is super dangerous or whatever, then it goes up on the list,” said Charleston Building Commissioner Tony Harmon.

Harmon says oftentimes locating the owner is the most difficult part of the process because they’re deceased or they can’t be located.

“We have an older population and as they die off there’s no one there to replace them,” he said.
If this happens, they then have to get a search warrant in order to go in and document the home.

The good news is, the City has been allocating more money to bringing the houses down; about $960,000 in the last budget, up nearly three-and-a-half times from the $260,000 dollars in previous years.

“We’re trying to prepare for when we do get population back and so forth, there will be a lot of land for people to build back on,” said Harmon.

It will still take some time to bring them all down, but for homeowners like Jim Eblin who waited three years, it’s worth the wait.

The Charleston Buildings Department can be reached at (304) 348-6833.

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