Houston Targets Condemned Homes On "Demolition Day"

The City of Houston is getting rid of some blight this weekend. The city, along with volunteer contractors, will target certain neighborhoods on Saturday for "demolition today" — knocking down homes that have gone through the lengthy process of being declared unsafe to live in. And, as David Pitman reports, this year's "demolition day" could help the city set a new record.

Assistant Chief Mark Curran is with the Houston Neighborhood Protection Corps — the arm of the police department that deals with nuisance issues.

"Dangerous buildings, weeded lots, junked motor vehicles, trash complaints... rats."

Curran says a typical Demolition Day results in about 70 to 80 condemned homes reduced to rubble.  But this year, Mayor Annise Parker upped the ante — to 200 homes.  Curran says his crew scouted 250 homes the Building and Standards Commission deemed unworthy to continue standing...

"And in some cases, the owners heard we were coming out there, and took the buildings down ahead of time.  So we're looking like we're gonna take down at least 200.  But on this particular day, we're gonna shoot for 185."

Curran says if they can take down that many homes on Saturday, it could help the city set a new record for the most homes demolished in a fiscal year — between 850 and 900. Most of the demolitions will happen in the Fifth Ward, Trinity Houston Gardens, and Acres Homes neighborhoods.  Several homes will also be taken down in Sunnyside and Brookhollow.    And even though the contractors are donating their services for Demolition Day, the city will still present the owners of the condemned properties a bill for their removal.

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David Pitman

Local Host, Morning Edition

The one question David hears most often isn't "What is it like to work for an NPR member station?" or "Have you ever met Terry Gross?" (he has)...