by YES! Weekly staff

Blight is Blight

Greensboro City Council should think twice before taking possession of the dilapidated Heritage House on West Meadowview Road. In addition to being a money pit for public dollars, and a pubic health and safety nightmare, word surfaced last week that the city plans to use a round about method of eminent domain seizure.

There is a dearth of quality, affordable housing in Greensboro. But government housing isn’t the answer. Working with the Greensboro Housing Coalition to force landlords to maintain minimum housing conditions would be a better use of public resources.

But a more concerning reality surfaced last week at the meeting of the Redevelopment Commission of Greensboro.

A staff attorney stated that the city had found a way to attach blight designation to each of the 177 units in the seven story structure, even those that are well maintained and free of code violations.

The staffer said that the city planned to use the poorly maintained elevator and the at times inhuman condition of the common areas – hallways and stairwells – to designate every unit as blighted.

This is wrong and a violation of the sacred property rights guaranteed in the US Constitution.

There should be no rush to take possession of Heritage House. On the list of troubles that plague this city, one more empty building is not high on the list. Macro-economic development seems to be stalled. The small business sector is thriving, with one project after another being announced in Greensboro on a regular basis. But big business seems to be bypassing Greensboro in favor of projects all around us.

This city council needs to focus on long-term solutions. We applaud Mayor Vaughan for her leadership in bringing attention to the issue of poverty, as evidenced by the Greensboro Poverty Summit taking place today at the International Civil Rights Center and Museum.

But the working majority that often runs council behind closed doors needs to step back and think through what responsibilities might come with city ownership of the Heritage House.

We’d love to see a marked improvement in minimum housing standards in a post-RUCO Greensboro. But we highly doubt that anyone can maintain a decent quality of life for low-income people piled together in that seven story nightmare. !