The Grahams

Caruthersville Gazette
January 17th, 2010

Caruthersville tearing down derelict homes

In recent months, Caruthersville city officials in the Department of Resources have torn down 20 abandoned houses and say another 18 are waiting for the wrecking ball. The demolitions are part of an effort to speed the transfer and renewal of derelict properties.

"Vacant, derelict houses drag down the value of everything around them," said Alfred Duncan, director of the Department of Resources.

Abandoned homes devalue neighboring property by as much as $10,000, according to local real-estate agent Kathy Powers. This amount can make the difference between foreclosure and solvency for homeowners who owe more than their house is worth. Foreclosure rates in Caruthersville are among Missouri's highest.

Many of the demolished houses have been vacant for years. In the down-city neighborhood of Indian Woods, residents said that there was one house that had been an eyesore for 25 years.

"That used to be the old Hawkins place," said Sean Stumpler of Indian Woods, pointing out a pile of broken, rotten timbers and scattered shingles. "Mrs. Hawkins lived up there, but we almost never saw her. That place pretty much fell down around her long before they tore it down. I don't even know how long it's been empty."

Relying on a rarely-used city law, administrators are notifying owners of derelict homes that their properties are a threat to public safety. The notices give owners 30 days to repair or demolish property.

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