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Some Say Durham Needs To Toughen Up on Run-Down Houses

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DURHAM — Fayettevilleis fining owners of run-down buildings, andWilsonis tearing them down.Durhamis supposed to be doing the same thing, but some residents say the city is not doing enough.

The city has boarded up some of the run-down houses. It can take up to 6 months as they try to contact landowners and move through the courts. For some people in the neighborhoods, that is not fast enough.

Durham is not the only city that has a problem with run-down, boarded-up houses. The Bull City has pledged to get tough on urban eyesores, but some say on Barnes Ave., the city has not been tough enough.

"Right now, over half of the houses on Barnes Ave. are vacant or boarded up," said resident Stephen Hopkins.

Hopkins is a member of Durham's campaign for decent housing. He and other activists met with city officials on the block.

Hopkins says the city is not really doing enough.

"The police are not doing enough; the community is not doing enough. Somewhere, we all have to come together and decide that we're going to deal with it," said Hopkins.

Kendall Abernathy,Durham Housing and Community Developmentdirector, says the city does all it can within the law.

"A house is written up for demolition. When we get through the legal process, it will be demolished in accordance with the ordinance, but it takes a long time to get through the legal process for the ordinance," said Abernathy.

Todd McDowell owns a house that he is trying to renovate and sell.

"I think the city could help at this point. When you talk to them and they say it takes 90 days for paperwork or 120 days paperwork, that needs to be changed. That's way too long," said McDowell.

The city has demolished 33 structures in the last year. A new community court will start soon where residents can get a judge's ruling instead of word from the housing department.


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