HUNTINGTON, WV (WOWK) – Community blight can be not just an eye-soar on a neighborhood, but It can also lead to an increase in crime and public safety.
Huntington’s west end is struggling with a collection of dilapidated buildings and homes and lots in need of recovery, and on Wednesday city officials and a state agency discussed with residents how they can help the city address the issue.
Huntington’s city planner and a representative WV BAD Buildings introduced Huntington residents to the BAD Building program
The program works in two phases. The first phase recruits and trains community members to go out and inspect properties in need of help.
“Some of their priorities maybe if they want to demolish a building for health and safety reasons, or if they want to rehab the buildings,” said Nicole Dias, project associate WV Bad Buildings.
Phases two helps residents and local municipalities come up with a plan of action to fix the problems in their community.
“We try to help come up with funding to demolish them or volunteers to help remodel them,” said Dias.
James Rumbaugh, who has lived in the area all his life said something needs to be done, and he is willing to help out.
“I came here to see what I can do to make things better because I enjoy the west end of Huntington. . . because it is home”.
Rumbaugh said one concern he has is the impact property blight will have on the well – maintained structures in the neighborhood.
“Some of the houses that we not maintained will certainly depress the area. That’s why we want to work together, to renew and makes things better. Everyone’s property value will go up”.
Shae Strait, a planner for the City of Huntington, said the program gives the Huntington another tool and more resources to address property blight, and it helps the city get feedback from citizens on what they would like to see done in their community.
“Through the model (BAD) citizens talk about what they are interested in. Whether it would be only residential structure, commercial, both, or vacant land”.
One concern raised in the meeting is how owners will respond to people criticizing their property, but Rumbaugh thinks the feedback can only help them.
“What’s the worst thing they can do, Its free advice and free observation, and the only thing that could happen is that things could get better”.
Strait said they would like to get a team of about 12-15 people, and once a team is put together it will probably take 6 months to a year to assess the area.
He also said residents whose homes or lots are in need of rehab can apply to the city’s Love You Block Program.
Mini-grants through the program can be used for home repairs, lot transformations, and community clean-ups.
The city has two AmeriCorps Vista members who assist with eliminating community blight in West Huntington.