Mayor Michael B. Coleman kicked off a new initiative today to combat vacant housing in Columbus. The city has identified 900 of the 6,200 vacant homes in Columbus as dangerous and uninhabitable, and be razing the buildings over the next four years.
“Despite the efforts we have made in the past, the scourge of vacant and abandoned housing continues to rein blight upon our neighborhoods,” Coleman said at today’s announcement event. “We did not create this problem, but together, we will address it.”
Coleman was joined today by City Attorney Richard C. Pfeiffer, Jr., Councilmember Zach M. Klein and other neighborhood leaders.
Previous efforts to combat vacant housing, such as the Home Again program, have addressed issues with 2,000 vacant properties, either renovating or demolishing them. The new initiative kicked off today will create a “Vacant and Abandoned Property unit” (VAP) that consistes of representatives from the City Attorney’s Office, Code Enforcement and Building and Zoning Services. The collaborative effort is being created to focus on the enforcement and management of all 6,200 vacant and abandoned homes in the City of Columbus. The group will be publicly publishing the name of negligent property owners who fail to tak action on these problematic houses.
“Our office has been aggressive in addressing the challenge of vacant and abandoned properties, from taking legal action against irresponsible landlords to proposing legislative remedies to helping raise public awareness of neighborhood blight,” said City Attorney Pfeiffer. “So we applaud Mayor Coleman for his efforts and look forward to working with him on this new initiative.”
The City of Columbus will invest $11.5 million from the Capital Improvements Fund over the next four years to fund demolition efforts. The city will also create programs that offer assistance to neighborhood development organizations interested in restoring homes or building on vacant lots.
“Work to clean blighted properties requires an increased amount of cooperation between the City and community,” said Councilmember Klein, chair of the Development Committee. “The VAP will help focus City resources where they are needed most to make changes that will happen over time, not overnight.”