Habitat to knock down, build 25 homes in Dallas

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by BRAD WATSON

WFAA

Posted on October 20, 2011 at 8:09 PM

Updated Thursday, Dec 5 at 1:02 AM

DALLAS — The bulldozers are out, and the goal of Dallas Area Habitat for Humanity is to tear down 25 run-down properties in Dallas.

There are 4,000 dilapidated properties in the city and the cost to Dallas for minimal upkeep — like grass-mowing —  is $5 million a year.

That's why the wrecking ball is being called in.

"By taking and knocking down these buildings, we are providing room to grow and improve these neighborhoods," explained Bill Hall, CEO of Dallas Area Habitat for Humanity.

Habitat knocked down the fourth of 25 structures it purchased to clear over the next year to build new homes.

An old bar came down in a Fair Park-area neighborhood where former City Council member Diane Ragsdale leads the non-profit South Dallas/Fair Park Inner City Community Development Corp., which also revitalizes housing.

"I can assure you that the neighbors are very happy," Ragsdale said. "I can assure you that this is part of a wonderful renaissance."

The City of Dallas has become more aggressive in the past couple of years tearing down vacant dilapidated homes that encourage crime and are symbolic of neighborhood decline.

The city would like to work more quickly to tear down nuisance houses, but it's been blocked by a Texas Supreme Court ruling regarding a property in the 6000 block of Hudson in East Dallas.

In a nine-year-old case, the court ruled there wasn't adequate constitutional protection for the owner since a city board — not a state court — gave the order.

Dallas and other cities are asking for the court to reconsider, claiming there are safeguards, and since it means the backlog of bad homes would rise while neighborhoods decline.

Hall said streets of hope need the uninhabitable homes gone "So we can flush out the cockroaches and improve that neighborhood."

E-mail bwatson@wfaa.com

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