County targets federal grant to demolish rundown houses

The Lancaster County Council unanimously approved a $40,500 commitment Monday night to go after a $405,000 Community Development Block Grant to tear down a dozen dilapidated and uninhabitable homes in the mill village.
The 12 homes are in Brooklyn Avenue area, as well as the Midway corridor on York Street.
If the county gets the grant, the money to pay for demolition of the blighted homes will come from a community enrichment program administered by the Catawba Regional Council of Governments (COG). The grant requires a 10 percent local cash match.
“It’s an outstanding program,” said county council member Larry Honeycutt.
In most cases, the homes need to be torn down, but the property owners can’t afford to pay for the demolition.
The program is similar in scope to a $5.6 million Neighborhood Initiative Program (NIP) that paid for the demolition of 73 condemned houses in the county from 2016-17. Thirty-four of those houses were in the county, 29 were in the city of Lancaster and 10 were in the town of Kershaw.
But this block grant is different because the properties won’t belong to COG after the homes are demolished.
“That’s good for us because they stay on the tax rolls,” said County Administrator Steve Willis. “The homes get torn down with the owner’s permission. The owner still retains the property and pays the taxes on it.”

By Gregory A. Summers, Staff Reporter with The Lancaster News