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Finally! Vacant homes coming down after decades

But funding for program remains up in the air
Posted at 5:38 PM, Jan 16, 2019
and last updated 2019-01-16 18:06:11-05

CLEVELAND — To Serverna Burrell the workers in white suits across from her home might as well be angels.

"Amen to that," Burrell said clapping her hands. "That's bad you have to live like that almost 20-some years. That's how long that building's been vacant."

A crew of workers has started preparing two vacant homes on East 88th Street across from Burrell's home for demolition.

The falling bricks give rise to hope that after years of complaints to the city, the magnets for trouble should soon be gone.

"If you live somewhere, you should be able to pay your rent and live decent, not live beside garbage," said Burrell.

The homes are being torn down as part of Cleveland's Safe Routes to School program.

It targets vacant buildings within 1,000 feet of schools in the city for demolition.

But the mayor's $10 million commitment to the program is now used-up and abandoned buildings around schools still stand.

"There's so many, there's probably a good seven or six on this," said Napoleon Williams as he walked along East 88th Street.

He says recent demolitions are a good start, but believes the wrecking ball needs to keep swinging to protect kids.

"You never know if there's homeless people staying there, or someone trying to take them or anything," said Williams. "They can easily snatch them during the day."

A city spokesman says there are plans to fund Safe Routes to School in 2019, but adds the budget process is still in its early stages.

He couldn't predict how much money will be allocated to tearing down vacant buildings or how many abandoned homes could be targeted.

The city says 3,200 empty homes, businesses and garages are still standing near schools.

It's why Burrell hopes the activity outside her home is just the beginning of even more demolitions.

"They need to keep doing it," Burrell said.

She dreams of the day when boarded-up buildings are gone from her neighborhood for good.

"I don't get with going downtown," said Burrell. "I don't have downtown money. I just want it a little safer up here where I live at."