Chris Schulz Published

State Preparing To Expand Dilapidated Properties Project

 Abandoned home in Huntington.

In late September, Gov. Jim Justice announced $9.2 million for 21 communities participating in the pilot Dilapidated Properties Program.

Just two months later, the state is sending out a survey to all 55 counties and 168 municipalities looking to expand the program and help more communities remove abandoned structures.

“It’s a program that’s been established to assist communities, municipalities and counties all over West Virginia, and dealing with the issue of abandoned and dilapidated structures and properties in their own communities,” said Ed Maguire, the environmental advocate for the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection (WVDEP).

He said the program’s aim is to help revitalize communities by repurposing a limited local resource.

“Structures that had been built historically are concentrated on the rare percentage of the landscape that’s actually flat you can build on,” Maguire said. “There’s not been anybody to come along with the funding to enable those structures to be removed so that then that flat ground could be made available for new use by others.”

Maguire pointed out that efforts to address dilapidated structures, in West Virginia and nationally, have existed before the West Virginia Legislature passed Senate Bill 368 in 2021, which authorized the WVDEP to develop a statewide program. In particular, he points to the complicated process of using funding that has federal components.

“Bottom line, we’re providing funding to them,” Maguire said. “The communities will go out, get their own bids, or have the properties taken down, and then we will reimburse them for their expenses.”

Local communities should respond to the survey by 5 p.m. on Friday, Jan. 6, 2023.

“We’re going to go through the process to do the inventory work and additional screening to add more communities for an expanded program,” Maguire said. “This is not a short term, one year kind of a deal. This could take millions of dollars over a number of years, but we’re off to an effective, good start and pretty excited.”