State money helps demolish derelict homes in Anderson

This Anderson home was torn down using state money Thursday.
No one wants a neighborhood nuisance next to them.
The state is paying to help demolish vacant homes and blighted buildings in communities across Indiana. That money is going to good use as havens for crime came crumbling down in Anderson Thursday.

It may seem hard to believe, but this is the very first time Steven Smith has seen anyone or anything in the house across the street for 10 years.

"They cut down the trees. Until they cut down the trees, you couldn't see the house," Smith said, standing in the front yard of his well-cared for brick home across the street.

But he could see it today.

He could see it start to come down as part of the nearly $2.8 million Indiana Hardest Hit Blight Elimination program, which the City of Anderson believes should help rid the city of around 130 homes.

"To qualify they have to be the worst of the worst. They have to be uninhabitable and in repairable so they are pretty bad," said Tonya Turley, head of community development for the City of Anderson.

"It's about time. It's been an eyesore in the neighborhood. Safety is an issue. It's infested with animals and it's about time. It's been too long sitting there," Smith said.

So the city has targeted at least five homes so far for demolition but hopes to use the money to take down 130 derelict homes overall. 

"This has been a very, very interesting project for the city," Mayor Kevin Smith said.

The city has been working on the project for over 20 years, but now finally has the money to make it happen.

"It's a quality of life issue. Removing blight from neighborhoods, homes that were long neglected, walked away from. This is not an overnight issue," the mayor added.

In this case, someone bought this home with the best intentions but, Turley said, "it was a little more than he expected, so that is how we got the property on the list, but the original plan was to rehab it.

Habitat for Humanity will now get the home, so the derelict property will be transition into an opportunity, which means Steven Smith will soon have a new neighbor.

Participation by residential homeowners in the program is voluntary. It provides owners the opportunity to get out from under blighted and dangerous structures.