Minneapolis gets county money for teardownsby Brandt Williams, Minnesota Public Radio
Hennepin County will spend more than $1 million to tear down boarded and vacant properties in Minneapolis. County officials say demolishing the condemned buildings quickly, will speed up the recovery of the housing market and help stabilize neighborhoods hit hard by the foreclosure crisis.
Minneapolis, Minn. — The county board designated the demolition proposal as an item for immediate approval, meaning none of the usual committee routine. The resolution's author Comm. Mike Opat says there wasn't time to wait.
"Time is of the essence here. The houses that are charred, that have no windows are just waiting for bad things to happen in them," Opat says. "There are reasons for people to move out and they provide reasons for people to not even consider the neighborhood."
There are more than 900 boarded and vacant homes in Minneapolis. The $1.2 million from the county will be enough to pay to demolish just 50 homes. The money will also cover the costs for removal of hazardous materials and waste.
Hennepin County will try to recoup some of the money by adding an assessment on each property of $17,500 or 70 percent of the average cost of the demolition and clean-up.
Opat, who's district includes several northern suburbs, says the loss of property tax revenue from Minneapolis affects the whole county.
Minneapolis city officials welcome the help. City council member Don Samuels says each boarded and vacant property has to be monitored, plus they attract squatters and vandals and other problems.
"Fifty less 911 calls per week or per day. I don't know, it's a lot of work. Then we're paying to board up houses. Our police are being called. We got to get our guys in to board them up. It's hundreds of dollars," Samuels explains. "Then they come and rip the boards off and there's a couple more prostitutes coming in. We've got to come back and board up again. We've got to arrest people."
The 50 houses which have been targeted for demolition by the city are scheduled to be torn down by the end of this year.
- All Things Considered, 06/17/2008, 5:51 p.m.