Fall River program rehabilitates abandoned properties for sale
FALL RIVER – Walk down Henry Street in the South End near the Tiverton Line, with its neat houses and manicured lawns, and you’ll stumble upon a dilapidated cottage with a toilet in the front yard, empty pinch bottles strewn across the property and a collapsed trailer on its side full of debris.
That thorn among the roses of the dead end street that leads to the shores of Cook Pond will not stay long, thanks to the Resurrected Building Blocks program that targets run-down properties in neighborhoods otherwise nice for redevelopment or demolition.
The city has once again partnered with the Massachusetts attorney general’s office to fund its Abandoned Housing Initiative trusteeship initiative, which was quite successful during the tenure of former Mayor Will Flanagan, but declined with the rapid change of administrations.
It was one of Mayor Paul Coogan’s campaign pledges to fight the scourge in the city and he is delivering on his goal.
“I’ve been around the abandoned properties in town and it’s something I don’t want to experience next to a house like this, so why would I ask someone else to do it. to do. These places can be renovated and turned into something that is livable for everyone. It’s the broken windows theory and it’s even worse. We have to stay on it, ”Coogan said.
In January 2020, the administration identified 172 vacant and abandoned buildings, and today that number is reduced to 97.
Coogan said the recent surge in real estate sales helped some of those buildings sold for redevelopment.
“But that number is still too high,” Coogan said.
Michael Dion, executive director of the Community Development Agency that oversees the Building Blocks program, said he recently signed a $ 400,000 agreement with the GA’s office.
“What we’re doing is providing financial assistance to receivers for vacant, abandoned or foreclosed properties, rehabilitating them and putting them back on the market,” Dion said.
How the Building Blocks program works
The city identifies dilapidated properties through housing inspectors and minimum inspection. The information is passed to the GA office which in turn contacts the owners and informs them that their properties need to be brought into compliance with the code.
If the owners do not cooperate or cannot cooperate, the AG goes to court to place the properties in receivership.
“We are providing $ 75,000 per property, of which $ 15,000 is a grant and $ 60,000 is a 1% interest loan, which is typically paid off when the property is sold,” Dion said.
So far, the city has identified four properties that have been submitted to the GA office for review. The properties are located on London, Hamlet, Farnum and Lawton streets.
The owner of the Hamlet Street property has been contacted by the AG and has now withdrawn the town’s building permits and is making the necessary repairs, Dion said.
“So it was a success. The goal is not to take the property, the goal is to get the current owners to start putting the property back into safe living conditions. ”
Dion said the city has identified four other dilapidated properties that will likely be added to the list and forwarded to the GA office.
The mess of an abandoned structure on Henry Street is about to be demolished, Dion said, and another dilapidated bungalow at 230 Lawton St. which is tucked away in another well-kept neighborhood is waiting to be razed in the near future.