HARTSVILLE, SC (WMBF) – A program that offers grants to help property owners remove blighted and hazardous properties from the area kicked off last week with the removal of three vacant homes.
If you drive around the City of Hartsville, you might see a number of abandoned, vacant, and dilapidated homes in different neighborhoods. City officials said that can cause problems for neighborhoods, so now city leaders created the Residential Demolition Assistance Program to provide funds for demolition costs that would otherwise be unaffordable for the property owner.
"We have a duty to maintain that high quality of life and part of that obligation is taking care of that unsightly blight that we have in our community," said Hartsville Mayor Mel Pennington.
Mayor Pennington said the city has provided at $20,000 grant to the Hartsville Community Development Foundation for a Residential Demolition Assistance Program.
"We're going to give them a substantial pile of money that we were using to tear down houses," said Pennington. "Because they can remediate those issues better than we can because of all the government red tape we have to deal with an all of the restrictions."
Basically, the city is using the $20,000 to subsidize the funding require to demolish homes in the city when the owners cannot afford to do it themselves. By subsidizing demolitions through this program, Pennington said the city can do more with the same amount of taxpayer money.
"We're looking at a few hundred properties that need to be remediated and they will be able to tear down four houses for every one that we've been able to tear down," added Pennington.
After a property is identified as failing to meet code, the owner must agree to participate with a $500 investment, and the program subsidizes the remaining cost of removing the structure.
When three structures were demolished last week, the city demolished two other structures that were in violation of building codes. Three more removals under the program are planned for the coming weeks.
"City Council provided the Community Foundation with the funding for this program so that we could expand on Hartsville's quality of life," Mayor Mel Pennington said. "We are now seeing those funds put to excellent use. This program brings interested property owners on board to help clear our neighborhoods of blighted structures which invite crime, fire and other hazards. It opens the door for new development, and eventually the jobs that come with that investment, in neighborhoods where these things weren't possible before, and it makes life better for the nearby residents who maintain their properties."