DALLAS — Blighted properties can be a huge drag on neighborhoods. Taxpayers spend millions cleaning them up, which makes even one tear-down something neighbors celebrate.
Habitat for Humanity — known for building affordable homes — demolished two blighted properties on Saturday.
It was a sweet moment for long-time neighbors like Beverly Harrison. "In 1968, Oak Cliff was beautiful country," she said. "Over the years, it just declined. Now I see people have an interest in bringing it back to its former glory."
In recent months, the non-profit Habitat has been focusing on demolishing problem homes, bulldozing a total of 12 in the past nine months.
"We have some neighborhoods in Dallas that can't move forward until we get rid of the rundown eyesores like the one that is behind these gentlemen," said Habitat executive Melissa de Leon.
Dallas spends $5 million a year just mowing the grass on abandoned properties. Blight has been a major focus for city leaders, who admit that paying for tear-downs can be a difficult proposition.
"It's time to take care of and get rid of the blight, get rid of the crime," said Dallas City Council member Dwaine Caraway. "Bring in the hope and restore the family."
Habitat plans to replace the eyesores with new homes, but Harrison is happy enough with just an empty lot for now.
"It's just better all around," she said.
Habitat for Humanity says it hopes to bulldoze a dozen more eyesores in Dallas.