DALLAS (CBSDFW) - Lula Gusters takes great pride in her South Oak Cliff home. The yard is well manicured and the house is well-maintained.
But if you ask Gusters about the house next door, she’ll tell you that she’s not a fan. “Before they boarded it up, we had homeless people staying in there,” said Gusters, who has lived in the neighborhood for 32 years. “They were throwing their trash everywhere in the backyard and in the front yard. It’s an eyesore,” she added.
This Friday, the city of Dallas will tear down the abandoned house next to Gusters’ home. “I will be so glad,” the 74-year-old said with a smile. Gusters says the dilapidated structure has done nothing but bring down her neighborhood.
The city of Dallas agrees and so the boarded-up house in the 3200 block of Maryland Avenue will be the first of 250 properties the city plans to tear down by the end of the year. “The mission is to restore the pride in our community and give the opportunity for neighborhoods to be able to grow and prosper,” explained Dallas Councilman, Dwaine Caraway.
Caraway is heading up the initiative and says the city is targeting properties that also serve as havens for prostitution and drugs. Most of the tear-downs will take place in South Dallas, Oak Cliff and West Dallas.
Councilman Caraway says the city will make every effort to contact the owners of the abandoned structures, but if the properties cause public safety issues, then the city will expedite the demolition process.
Tearing down homes to build up neighborhoods is nothing new to Dallas. Reid Porter is president of Advocates for Community Transformation. His team of volunteer attorneys have been helping neighbors in West Dallas demolish abandoned properties for the past three years. “Dallas residents in West Dallas or South Dallas really want what everybody else wants for their families, which is to live in a safe neighborhood, free from crime and from urban blithe,” said Porter.
Caraway says this new initiative will be the city’s most aggressive one to date. In order to meet its goal of 250 by the end of the year, the city will need to demolish a minimum of seven properties a week.