Richmond attacks blight problem

By Rachel DePompa - bio | email
Posted by Terry Alexander - email

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) – Richmond is launching a new attack on nearly 3,000 vacant and blighted properties. The administration is pooling your tax dollars to get more of those empty homes fixed up and back on the tax roll.

"Just makes the block and the neighborhood look bad. Especially when you got other houses out here that's built nice and you got that one just sitting there just make the block look off," said Sadora Jackson who lives across the street from a blighted home in Highland Springs.

Peter Chapman is in charge of community development.

"Ultimately we need to get those back into the market, so they are generating taxes, generating tax revenue," said Chapman.

He says, empty homes have long been associated with crime, but they also take money out of the city's pockets. According to a study out of Philadelphia, homes within 150 feet of a blighted property lose $8,000 in property value.

"You have to address the vacant property situation that we have, if you're going to positively impact neighborhoods," said Chapman.

It would cost $400-million to fix up all the properties. The city has started taking control of more abandoned structures. It also just received a $5 million grant to get more non-profits to fix up homes.

"We're giving them some of financing, not all, but some of the financing they need to acquire, rehab and then resell or release," Chapman stated.

The city recently set aside $500,000 from a budget surplus for fighting blight. Chapman is developing a plan on how to spend that money. He will present it to council in the next month.

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