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‘Blitz on Blight’ Program Underway in Des Moines

DES MOINES, Iowa -- Blighted homes are an eyesore -- they can bring about pests like rats, and they can drive your property value down. Now that the city of Des Moines has an infusion of money from the local option sales tax, it is able to do much more about blighted properties.

“We've had a backlog of public nuisance structures to remove, up to 200. Some of them have been on the list for 10 years. With the local option sales tax money, we get to go back, take those that were on the list the longest, work our way through the list and then hopefully we keep up with the demos going forward which I think is really important to neighborhoods,” said SuAnn Donovan, Neighborhood Zoning and Inspections Administrator.

The local option sales tax injected the program with $600,000 right off the bat. The next home to go down is at 1155 Enos. The demolition is scheduled for July 15. The city plans to continue taking down homes throughout the year. Also on the list includes the homes at:

  • 5708 SW 2nd Street
  • 1937 Courtland Ave.
  • 3130  6th Ave.
  • 1552 E. 36th Street

Those who live by the house at 1552 East 36th say it can’t come fast enough. The home has been vacant for a while.

“You're looking at four years plus. There were a couple of people that looked on buying it but to build on that lot, the back due taxes were crazy. Good, knock it down, let’s do something with it” said Chris Wood.

Residents nearby say the vacant home brings down the entire street.

“We all try to take care of our homes we try to keep them nice, and it's just a nice little neighborhood. It'd be nice to get somebody in there like Habitat [for Humanity] or somebody that's going to build a decent house and make a home for somebody,” said Steve Okones.

The city says this program will continue for years to come, as it can take up to 18 months to go through the legal process of adding a new home to the list and tearing it down.

The plan is for home builders to buy the land and build new homes to replace the blighted ones.

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