DURHAM, N.C. — Leaders in Durham are working hard to clean up the city's image. The latest plan would rid neighborhoods of eyesores while boosting home ownership.
Lester Smith said a house on Dowd Street has been empty for three years. He said the vacant house and the overgrown weeds are hurting his property value.
"I hope someone moves in there soon. That's my honest opinion. I need someone to move into the house," he said.
The city of Durham owns the "eyesore," as well as about 200 other pieces of property. The city cannot afford the upkeep, so it is becoming a realtor. First-time home buyers will get the first crack at the homes for close to tax value.
"If they don't sell within a three-month period, we'll put them out for nonprofits to purchase," said Reggie Goodson, of the city of Durham.
Everyone will get a shot at the empty lots the city owns.
"The vacant lots -- we'll put them up on the auction block twice a year to the highest bidder," Goodson said.
Councilman Howard Clement likes the idea, but he said the city needs to be careful.
"I hope we screen these possible buyers," he said. "We've had enough trouble as it is. We don't need to buy trouble or sell it."
The plan is not a done deal yet, and details still need to be hammered out. The City Council will vote on the proposal in about two weeks.