Terre Haute Renews Blight Elimination Efforts

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Dozens of homes sit damaged and vacant, collecting trash and crime, in Terre Haute neighborhoods.

“A lot of people call this the ghetto over here. They don’t take care of this side of town like they do Ohio Street,” said Deborah Allen, an 18th Street resident.

“If you can’t live in them, then they need to come down. That’s just all there is to it. All they’re going to do is get worse, and rot away,” April McKamey of 14th Street added.

The solution is to tear down these vacant homes through the Blight Elimination Program, funded with both federal and city dollars. Mayor Duke Bennett targeted the eyesores in his state of the city address. He says there are 65 properties the city would like to demolish.

“People get frustrated because it takes so long to tear these things down,” the mayor said. “If you live next to one, or there’s one down the street, you’re thinking, ‘what is taking so long?’ But you need to keep in mind there’s a tremendous amount of red tape to use these federal funds.”

It can take up to two years for the city to gain control of an abandoned property, then bid it out for demolition.

“A lot of last year’s red tape has now been approved, so we’re going to do a lot of action in ’17. You’re going to see a lot of houses coming down,” added Mayor Bennett.

That’s good news for people who have to see these houses next door every day.

“I would rather see trees planted and a pretty lot, rather than a run-down house that only God knows what the hell is creeping inside,” McKamey said.

After demolition, residents won’t have to worry what’s creeping inside.

“A lot of these abandoned houses, uh, homeless people stay in them. I feel like they should tear them down. That way the predators and everything don’t have a place to pull somebody into to violate them,” Allen added.

City redevelopment says they’ve already knocked down more than 40 houses, starting with the worst ones first.

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