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Demolishing condemned homes: one idea for redirecting half-cent money

Demolishing condemned homes: one idea for redirecting money

PUEBLO, Colo. - City Council members who support redirecting money in the city's half-cent fund have a list of projects they're eager to share with voters Tuesday night.

Council members Chris Kaufman and Sandy Daff, along with others on council, plan to present what they're calling The Great Pueblo Payback to voters at East High School. It's the first of many town hall meetings council plans to hold. Kaufman says one of the ideas he'll propose to voters is allocating $2 million to destroy condemned homes in Pueblo. 

There are nineteen homes in the city listed as condemned- the oldest dates back to October 2009. It sits at 812 E. 5th. Janet Wilson, owner of the Pueblo House, lives next door to the house. She said the home is an eyesore she'd like to see spruced up.

"I think it sends a bad message," Wilson said. "It must be depressing for people to get up every morning and see boarded-up houses."

Wilson's home was once, too, an abandoned home. She turned it the Pueblo House, a community space to educate people on local issues. But stories like that are the exception in Pueblo. 

"I think our community has many needs. And I think you only have to drive down the street to see that taking down these properties is just one of the needs," said Sandy Daff, president of Pueblo City Council.

Earl Wilkinson, director of Public Works, said there's no money in the city's general fund to destroy the condemned homes. Three to four homes are demolished on any given year, paid entirely through grant funding. Many of the condemned homes contain asbestos. Wilkinson estimates it costs between $28,000 to $35,000 to demolish a home with asbestos.

"The city simply does not have the funding in place to allow us to proceed on those demolishments," Daff said. "As a result you have vacant, neglected properties dotting our neighborhood."

David Vaughn, with Pueblo Regional Building, oversees the condemnation process. He said it usually takes about six months to list a home as condemned, and added that neighbors are the ones who end up suffering. "You have vandalism, you have people living in them, you have drug dealers. You have a little of everything going on with them," he said.

Tuesday's town hall meeting starts at 5:30 p.m. at East High School. 

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