City of Osceola getting rid of vacant homes

OSCEOLA, AR (KAIT) - The Osceola City Council is meeting Monday night to discuss a block grant for cleaning up old homes in the city.

According to Mayor Dickie Kennemore, on the agenda is a plan to tear down six vacant homes on the east side of town.

Kennemore said there are a lot of old houses in town that are about 80-years-old.

He said some of these houses are referred to as slums.

"The wiring is not meeting the code," he said. " The plumbing is not meeting the code, and the installation and things that make the house energy efficient is not up to standard."

Kennemore said the purpose of the project is to rebuild and upgrade the east side of town and to provide better housing that is affordable for residents. He also said they plan to turn the vacant homes into clean lots to sell for future construction.

"We condemn them when they become vacant," Kennemore said. "And then the owner can either upgrade it, or they can just abandon them and then we'll go in and tear them down, and we'll take title to the lot."

Kennemore also added the city notifies previous owners before they begin demolishing the property. He said the city has a code enforcer who goes out and condemns the property after it becomes vacant.

"If an individual comes along and wants to build an upgraded rental property, or a homeowner already got a down payment on the property--because they own the lot--they can provide new and better housing, " he said. "And we make some really good deals on these properties. An individual might buy a nice big lot for $500; where they will have to pay $12- to $15,000 in a new subdivision."

Mayor Kennemore also said the city doesn't plan to condemn a whole neighborhood due to some nice houses built next to a vacant property. However, he said it's unfair to someone who builds or remodels to live next door to a house that is falling down.

"It's not good for a slum landlord to be renting out," he said. "In this great nation, we should be able to provide the basic food and housing to everybody; so we don't like the idea of these slums. We want to tear them down, and get them into affordable housing."

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