BY THE CITY OF HUNTINGTON FOR THE HERALD DISPATCH
The City of Huntington has continued the fight on blight in 2017 with great strides. Twenty-six unsafe structures were demolished in addition to receiving additional private donations of $100,000 to target unsafe structures in Huntington’s West End.
Community Development Block Grant funds allocated $200,000 for citywide demolition in addition to $65,000 in the Fairfield neighborhood. The city’s Public Works Department also lended a hand with in-house demolition. For fiscal year 2018, we are hoping to increase those numbers.
This is not just a Huntington issue. Counties across West Virginia and the nation are dealing with the same problems. Huntington is fortunate in that it receives dedicated funding each year from the federal Community Development Block Grant program to tackle unsafe structures. Other communities are not so fortunate.
When utilizing federal funds to demolish unsafe structures, the process can take 11 months from start to finish, and that is if things line up perfectly. Educating the public on how this process works is very important. With federal funds, extra steps must be completed that are not typical with a private demolition.
Much time was spent working with the Centers for Community Progress after receiving a technical assistance grant to address vacant, abandoned and tax-delinquent properties in addition to exploring West Virginia’s tax sale process. The Huntington Urban Renewal Authority and its statewide partners, including the West Virginia Community Development Hub and the Northern Brownfields Assistance Center, conducted three community meetings and presented a statewide survey designed to elicit stories of how vacant, abandoned and dilapidated properties affect West Virginia residents…