Blight across Macon takes its toll, residents say

Center for Collaborative JournalismSeptember 9, 2013 

Frank Dawkins wants action on the abandoned and dilapidated homes in the Kings Park neighborhood in Macon where he lives.--GRANT BLANKENSHIP-THE TELEGRAPH/gblankenship@macon.com

Sister Elizabeth Greim sees the generosity of Macon residents firsthand through her work with a resource center for the homeless.

But as she looks across her home in the Pleasant Hill neighborhood, she sees abandonment -- and it worries her.

“Where I live, there is a public school right behind us. I think about those kids coming in there every day,” said Greim, who is director of the center, called Daybreak. “Almost every building around them is falling down. Those are some of the things I worry about. What we see with our eyes impacts us. If what a child sees every day they come to school is buildings continuing to fall down around them, then they don’t necessarily see a lot of hope.”

Abandoned buildings, dilapidated homes and decaying neighborhoods are also things that worry Frank Dawkins. He has lived in east Macon’s Kings Park subdivision for 16 years. He expressed frustration at the condition of his neighborhood and what he sees as inaction by elected officials.

“There are 56 vacant houses in the subdivision,” Dawkins said. “The neighborhood looks bad, especially when nobody is doing anything. (Those houses) should be boarded up, torn down or repaired. When I talk to the county commission, they have a problem with finding out who owns the houses. It shouldn’t be a problem to find out who is paying the taxes. If you are paying taxes, you are supposed to be responsible for the houses.”

Greim said they made Daybreak clean and modern as a visual sign of hope.

“Paint on the walls and keeping a place clean doesn’t cost that much, really,” she said. “But what it says to people is my surroundings are dignified and that means somebody cares about me, and I care about me and I care about my surroundings.

“When the surroundings begin to fall apart, I begin to fall apart.”

 

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