A reduction in crime is just one of the benefits they're expecting from their mission. Coming down are some old, run-down houses in Wilson on East Nash Street. Going up in their places will be modest new homes that will sell for about $60,000 each. The goal is to sell the houses, and not rent them. That appears to be coming about.
That, say some, is already beginning to result in a slowdown in crime.
From the front porch of her East Nash Street home, Stephanie Cooper sees a much different view than she did just a few years ago. Corners that once were outlets for drug dealers are now spacious yards for homeowners.
"It's nicer and it's much quieter than it used to be," said Cooper. "Because there were a whole lot of drugs and stuff, but they're cleaning it up."
The new houses are there because of a joint effort between the city of Wilson and some local home builders. The city uses taxpayer money to buy the land and demolish the old houses. Builders use private money to build new homes for people who have already committed to buy them.
In all, 75 old homes have been destroyed and 45 new ones are under construction.
"In the area we're working in, approximately 80 percent of the people were renters versus owners," said Gwen Burton, chair of the Wilson Redevelopment Committee. "We think a better mix would be to have at least half be owner-occupied for the stability of the area."
Area residents say they are glad to see the old places go, because they have made the neighborhood a magnet for crime. They say you can see just about anything lying in some of the yards.
Some of the people who were living in the old houses have chosen to live in other parts of the city. Those who were told to move received some assistance from the city in doing so. A few have moved into the new houses, with counseling classes in how to take care of their money and their new homes.
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