DALLAS - Shaking stereotypes isn't easy. Especially in South Dallas.
"It's hard," said Willie Mae Coleman, a lifelong resident of South Dallas. "It's bad because no one wants to come over here and live."
Coleman is president of the Bertrand Neighborhood Association. For years, she said she has asked the city to step in and demolish the deteriorating house at 3701 York Street.
It has been vacant for years, and squatters now occupy it.
"You can't say the codes enforcement does not know it's there," Coleman added. "They ride through every day."
Dallas' code compliance department is aware of it. According to tax records, the city has put 15 liens on the place for having to maintain the lot dating back to 2005.
"Vacant lots don't bring people to the community, but it's better than that old house sitting there that's going to burn up sooner or later," Coleman said.
Turns out, Dallas got a court order to demolish the 82-year-old house on York Street in June 2011. But 13 months later, Coleman wonders why it's still standing.
The City of Dallas said a Supreme Court case last summer led to a backlog of houses that need to be demolished. Attorneys asked the city to suspend demolitions until the legal questions were answered. In January 2012, Dallas got the go-ahead to resume tear downs.
Now, the city said it expects to demolish a larger than normal number of houses by the end of the year.
"Normally, we do a better job of keeping pace with them, but we had to slow down because of the legal matters," said Joey Zapata, Assistant City Manager, "but once we got the go-ahead in January we've been going through them and trying to get through as many as possible."
In 2010, Dallas demolished 160 old structures. Last year, that number rose to 175.
"At this point in the fiscal year we're at 159, and we've got another 90 queued up, so we expect to demolish 250," Zapata said.
Dallas taxpayers spend $6,000 on average to demolish a house. This year, the program will cost the city about $1.5 million.
A large number of liens does not necessarily mean a house will qualify for demolition, Zapata explained. Ones with poor structural condition are usually the first to go.
After seven years, the house at 3701 York Street finally qualified. It will be demolished August 1, Zapata said.