Vacant, blighted properties on the rise in Richmond

By Rachel DePompa - bio | email
Posted by Phil Riggan - email

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - Vacant, blighted properties are on the rise in the city of Richmond -- up 3.5 percent from this time last year.

That's according to the city's latest report card on its neighborhoods. Which areas of the city are struggling and which are thriving?

The North Church Hill area in the East End has 32 of the city's 106 vacant lots. And it has the most number of vacant houses in the city with 99 empty structures.

According to the city the vacancy rate in North Church Hill is nearly 12 percent.

A shock to Barry Hofman. He's renovating a home he just bought in this area.

"This one right here's being renovated, this one has just been renovated I know some body's buying this one right now. It's happening. I'm sure it's just slow," Hofman said.

Also making the list of the neighborhoods with the worst vacancies? Union Hill, Woodville, Fairmount and Blackwell.

Rachel Flynn, the city's director of community development, says this data is an important indicator of the health of the city.

"When you have data it just gives you information to know where to focus," Flynn said.

Flynn says North Church Hill and several other neighborhoods suffered setbacks because of foreclosures during the housing crash. But new money is on the way to help them grow again. The city just got $2 million in stimulus funds.

Tracking vacancies and foreclosures also helped the city to determine its most affordable neighborhoods. Places like Byrd Park and Randolph, where homes sell for less than $198,000.

"Where it's green. Those are the healthiest affordable neighborhoods," Flynn said. "Forest View, Forest Hill Terrace, Westover, Piney Knolls that kind of thing."

Now the city hopes this list of vacancies leads to even more stimulus money. It recently applied for another $20 million in HUD grants to help fix up nine more neighborhoods in the city.

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