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Carney signs legislation to help local gov'ts fight blighted neighborhoods

New Castle County Executive Matt Meyer

Delaware is making it easier for local governments to clean up blighted housing across the state.

Gov. John Carney said two measures he signed Thursday build on the successes of the Strong Neighborhoods fund that rehabs vacant, abandoned and foreclosed housing.

New Castle County Executive Matt Meyer (D) said vacant houses cost communities in more ways than just depressing area property values and the rise in crime.

“In terms of policing, in terms of code enforcement, the number of times we need to you know send county employees out to check on vacant properties, assess fines and penalties that not always, but often are never paid,” he said.

Counties and cities will now be able to prequalify bidders for sheriff’s sales. That means they can bar bidders who owe property taxes or don’t keep their current properties up. They can also put liens on properties when owners owe money because of code violations.

Meyer said they want to give priority to property owners who will add to neighborhoods, not detract.

“We don’t want slumlords going around buying more and more vacant properties on the cheap," he said. "What we want to is we wanna look at high quality landowners who care about the properties they own, who care about the communities in which their properties are located.”

Meyer said New Castle partners with groups like Habitat for Humanity and Interfaith Community Housing of Delaware to renovate the vacant properties into affordable homes for sale. He added that redeveloping the properties raises area property values, deters crime and make neighborhoods more attractive.

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