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Wilson Wants Vacant Houses to Vanish

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WILSON — You've probably seen them in communities near you. They're real eye-sores -- old, boarded-up houses that have been vacant for years.

Cities usually have policies to get rid of them, but Wilson has a more aggressive approach.

Hubert Speight doesn't like what he sees in his Wilson neighborhood. Boarded up homes have been rotting, falling apart, for six years.

"People come around and ask about it and complain about it all the time." Speight says. "Even all the neighbors talk about it. But, really, there's nothing anyone can do except look at it."

Your town probably has abandoned houses too. Most are ugly, they are often magnets for crime -- and are not worth fixing up.

Relief may be on the way. The Wilson Appearance Commission hopes the city can get state approval to speed the process of tearing them down.

The plan goes hand-in-hand with the city's efforts to replace old, unlivable houses with new ones. The neighborhood near East Nash Street is a good example. It's one of the oldest parts of town, but all of these houses were built during the last few months.

More than a dozen new homes have popped up in front of Ned Barnes' house in the past two years.

"It makes you feel better when you come in. You turn in here and it really looks better, and the yards look better. The yards look much better. Before, there were some empty lots over there and they stayed cluttered up a lot," Barnes says.

In two years, 60 dilapidated homes have come down. With state approval and a nod from city leaders, the bulldozers could become even more common on Wilson's east side.

The new homes the city is encouraging are available -only- to first time owners. No renters.


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