ST. JOSEPH, Mo.
House after house in St. Joseph sits empty and boarded up, left to rot without proper maintenance and care.
However, City Council may have an answer that could potentially remove or repair some of the vacant homes around town.
In a council work session Wednesday night, city leaders met with Land Bank Kansas City to discuss the possibility of forming a similar program in St. Joseph.
"Having vacant houses effects everything from crimes to property values, and just your sense of security in general," Bruce Woody, City Manager, said. "Anything that we can do to move in a positive direction to get a higher rate of occupancy, a lower rate of vandalism and reduce fires. All of those are positive things for us."
The program would make it easier for individuals or developers to purchase vacant and tax delinquent homes at a cheaper cost. They would then "flip" them, or restore them back to living condition.
Planning and Development Director Clint Thompson said this program could help remove some of the eye sores in town.
"The goal of the city forming something like a land bank is not to generate a profit, but to assist private development and to partner with private interests to revitalize our inner city neighborhoods," Thompson said.
The program is still in the early stages, but Woody said he and other council members are looking forward to discussing their options further.
"The city council that was here tonight seemed to be very interested in having the administration continue to work on some options," Woody said. "So, I'll start having some meetings with the county to determine whether a formal arrangement is more appropriate versus a more informal one where we just use the tools rather than create another entity."
The Executive Director of Land Bank Kansas City, Ted Anderson, said their program has seen some success.
"Over the last four years we've sold about 400. Each year it's gotten a little better. We sold 430 last year," Anderson said.
There are currently about 500 vacant properties in the city of St. Joseph.
"I think you'd probably have to start small and try to bite off pieces in certain areas to make the biggest impact," Thompson said.