The city is preparing to spend more than $ 15 million on its federal rescue funds on blight demolition and more than $ 18 million on new housing plus home rehab and repairs. Housing inspectors are doing a citywide sweep to identify nuisance properties and try to determine which ones can be salvaged and which need to be removed.
The city hopes to have the evaluation process finished by the fall and wants to begin the American Rescue Plan Act-funded demolition and housing improvement work within a year, said Steven Gondol, Dayton’s deputy director of planning and community development.
“Our charge for the Dayton Recovery Plan from the city manager has been‘ impactful ’- making sure that we’re using the funds to have an impact … whether it’s expanding green space for the community or putting together a future in- fill site for housing, ”Gondol said.
On Tuesday, a city-hired contractor demolished a two-story home at 1516 Chapel St.
The home’s exterior was in decent shape, but the inside was a very different story.
Neighbors say the former owner sold drugs out of the home and bred pit bulls, and the inside was full of trash and dog feces, which passers-by could smell if they got close to the front door.
The city acquired the Chapel Street property following issues with criminal activities, and inspectors found a significant number of dogs on-site that were removed by local animal control authorities, said Ken Jackson, a nuisance abatement specialist with the city.
Inspectors also found evidence of dog-fighting, a drug grow operation, credit card-manufacturing devices and other illegal activities, he said.
Mark Winkle, 62, who lives across the street, said he witnessed and videotaped many drug transactions and illegal activities at home but it took a long time for authorities to respond to his complaints.
He said he’s glad the home was taken down but he wishes it didn’t have to come to that.
“I would have rather seen it rehabbed, but considering the amount of dog crap in there … People walk past it and say, ‘My god, what is that smell,'” he said.
The former owner also removed a load-bearing wall that destabilized the floors upstairs, and some of the support posts in the basement had rotted away.
City staff and officials with partner organizations walked through and evaluated the Chapel Street home multiple times, and they initially hoped it could be rehabbed.
But there were simply too many problems that would cost a fortune to fix.
However, Pathway to Homeownership, a County Corp. program, is considering constructing a new home on the now-leveled site.
The city tries to have a strategic reuse plan for nuisance properties it tears down, Gondol said, though he acknowledges that some structures need to come down for safety reasons, regardless of the property’s reuse potential.
Dayton has been awarded nearly $ 138 million in federal funds from the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA), and the city plans to spend $ 55 million to improve neighborhoods.
The city says this will include about $ 34.5 million for demolition and improving housing conditions, such as investments in new and in-fill housing and housing rehab and repair.
Last weekend, inspectors finished a nuisance property sweep in the Riverdale area, and they’ve finished sweeps in prioritized target areas identified by the city’s ARPA spending plan, like the Old North Dayton, Miami Chapel, Edgemont, Five Oaks, Twin Towers and Carillon neighborhoods.
Gondol said the goal is to provide the city manager and internal partners with a complete list of nuisance properties by the end of the summer.
Tuesday was the first day of summer.
City staff will present recommendations for demolition and stabilization, and will share information about each nuisance property, such as age, condition and proximity to other ARPA-funded projects.
The city’s nuisance list currently contains about 1,440 properties.
Like the Chapel Street home, some properties across the city look good on the outside but are dangerous or deplorable inside, Gondol said, adding that this sometimes occurs when rain and water intrusion causes the inside floors to cave in.
Also, Gondol said, some Dayton homes look terrible from the outside but are actually in pretty good shape and really only need a new roof or other manageable repairs or stabilization work.
The city is working with local partners, like County Corp., to identify opportunities to rehab and reuse nuisance properties or redevelop the lots if homes need to come down, Gondol said.
He said the city would like to see as many existing homes rehabbed as possible, as new construction costs have increased and rehab can be a cheaper option.
The city also has the ability to make some home repairs to stabilize nuisance properties to prevent further deterioration and then place a tax assessment on the property for stabilization costs, Gondol said.
Jackson, the nuisance abatement specialist, said inspectors often can tell whether a home has significant structural damage based on external conditions.
If there are holes in the roof, water damage is very likely.
“A lot of times people will say, ‘Why are you tearing that house down – it looks great,'” Jackson said. “But they haven’t taken a look and seen that on the backside the whole foundation is washed out and the dirt is filling the basement and the house is in danger of collapsing.”