Florence City Council votes to use federal money to demolish abandoned homes

Pee Dee

FLORENCE, S.C. (WBTW) — Florence City Council voted to use money from the federal American Rescue Plan for the removal of some of the more than 100 abandoned and dilapidated homes in the city.

“This process was already in the making,” Councilwoman Lethonia Barnes said. “The holdup was money. So yesterday, we moved that $500,000. It will be put forth so that we can deal with some of these problems.”

It can cost up to $10,000 to demolish a home, officials said, and there are other factors that can come into play during the process.

“Many times, we have to do title searches and the heir properties, and there’s no clear title to the homes, or maybe, there are 10 heirs and you have to get permission from all of them, so it’s quite complicated, and it takes a lot to get to this point,” Jerry Dudley, the city’s planning director, said.

City officials say blighted homes have attracted homelessness and crime throughout the area. Barnes said her cousin was assaulted on Gaillard Street.

“She’s 77 years old, and she was attacked by somebody that’s actually coming and staying in these homes,” Barnes said. “So, it’s just not a safe environment for them … for our children, or for our elderly.”

Florence Police Capt. Brandt said an arrest was made in the case.

Now, the city is in the progress of contacting homeowners to start the process of revitalizing the area.

“We’ve got our work cut out for us, but we have great staff, great council of people who are willing to put in the hard work so that we can change lives,” Barnes said.

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