Blighted homes disappearing in south St. Pete

- The boards are coming down on several blighted homes in south St Petersburg.  According to Mayor Rick Kriseman, the city has reduced the number of vacant and boarded properties in the Childs Park neighborhood from 188 to 40 since 2014.

In addition to the housing market improving, city officials said they offer several programs to ease the burden on buyers considering taking on a blighted home and hopefully entice them.

"Blight does have a negative impact on the neighborhood and the community," said Robert Gerdes, director of cCodes and compliance. "Anything we can do to take a dilapidated structure, get it rehabilitated and put a family in that structure, is great for the neighborhood and the surrounding neighbors."

Gerdes said blighted homes often become a nuisance to the city. Neighbors like Jabaar Edmond, vice president of the Childs Park Neighborhood Association, said the empty homes can bring trouble.

"We have a lot of youth crime. We have a lot of different problems that could be addressed through better housing," said Edmond.

City officials said by filling the empty homes, it bring more neighbors to the area that can keep an eye out for crime.

City code enforcement offers a program to forgive code liens on a property that's being rehabbed. The city also offers a rebate program to fix up homes on the south side.

"If you're willing to rehabilitate a structure, you can get up to a $10,000 rebate on the work that you're doing," said Gerdes.

Improvements such as roof work, electrical, and plumbing would qualify for a rebate.

Edmond said the city's efforts to improve Childs Park could be a good chance for life-long residents to buy and repair a home at a price they can afford.

"It could expand into home ownership for people who are from the community, born and raised, so it's not so many outside investors making the community a perpetual rental neighborhood," added Edmond.

The city's improvements efforts stretch beyond south St Pete. Citywide, vacant properties have dropped from 830 to 277 in the last three years.

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