JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - City leaders say abandoned homes threaten to destroy neighborhoods – by leading to increased crime and decreased property values. They estimate there’s 12,000 vacant properties in Jacksonville alone.
Neighbors say they're seeing this all over the place and hope the city is serious about solving the problem.
Robert Wilson has worked in construction for decades. Now he’s also involved in another renovation project, saving neighborhoods.
He was one of the dozens of people who attended a meeting called by council member Bill Guliford. He’s trying to find ways to cut down on the thousands of vacant properties in Jacksonville, 12,000 by his count.
“What do you think that does to a community? We've seen areas like Durkeeville that are in decline because of abandoned properties,” Wilson says.
Representatives from the Group Hope now also listened to concerns. They’ve worked with cites in other regions to help match vacant properties with willing homeowners.
“I can tell you. I've not been to any of these types of meetings with cities where you have this much community involvement and volunteerism out of the gate, there's genuine interest,” says Tim Satterwhite, consultant at Hope Now.
But Wilson says it will take more than just interest to save these neighborhoods.
“You can't just start, I'm going to change a house here, a house here and a house and think you're going to change a community,” Wilson says.
Bill Guliford says he wants to bring everyone back together in a couple of weeks to discuss plans moving forward.
Other groups hope the effort will also lead to more affordable housing in Jacksonville.