CHARLESTON, WV (WOWK) – The city of Charleston has hundreds of abandoned houses and people are tired of looking at them.

Charleston begins demolishing abandoned houses

There are complaints about squatters, fires and drug use and they want the city to take action.
The city of Charleston says they have addressed the problem, but now they can do just a little bit more.

Last week on the west side, a bulldozer was a welcome sight for homeowner Jim Eblin, who says the abandoned house next to his property was an “eyesore”.

“There were drug addicts and all of that and mostly for safety reasons,” Eblin said.

“I complained a lot and so did the other neighbors here,” he said.

But it’s one thing and a lot more for the city of Charleston, which has nearly 100 homes on its teardown list, and more that are on the pike.

While most of the homes on the city’s demolition list are on the west side, there are also a few in the East End and Kanawha town.

Over at the City Services Center, they say it’s not that easy to tear them all down. There’s a process and average cost of $ 8,500

“We try to rate the houses as worst to best and we will look for the worst first when we burn out or something breaks down, something that is super dangerous or whatever it’s top of the list” said Tony Harmon, Charleston Building Commissioner.

According to Harmon, often the hardest part of finding the owner is because they have passed away or cannot be found.

“We have an older population and as they die there is no one to replace them,” he said.
If so, they’ll need to get a search warrant to document the house.

The good news is that the city has allocated more money to house collapse. About $ 960,000 in recent budget, nearly three and a half times more than $ 260,000 in previous years.

“We’re trying to prepare for that when we bring the population back and so on. There will be a lot of land for people to build on,” Harmon said.

It will still take some time to bring them all down, but for homeowners like Jim Eblin who have waited three years, it is worth the wait.

The Charleston Buildings Department can be reached at (304) 348-6833.

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