April 15, 2023 -- Today Mayor Sylvester Turner, joined by the Department of Neighborhoods (DON), City officials, and community representatives, announced the City’s 2023 Demolition initiative at a “Demolition Day” press conference in Kashmere Gardens, one of Mayor Turner's Complete Communities. The initiative calls for the removal of nearly 300 dangerous structures by the end of the year.
“Demolition Day” kicked off the City’s second quarter projects, with the removal of the blighted residential building on-site and four other hazardous structures in the vicinity. Thus far this year, 129 residential dangerous buildings have been demolished by City contractors and through property owner compliance with official orders to demolish. In the second quarter, the City will target nearly 109 properties citywide with orders for demolition.
Many of the buildings on the City’s demolition roster are in underserved, under-resourced neighborhoods, including Mayor Turner’s Complete Communities.
"As mayor of this great city, my top priority to ensure that our neighborhoods are safe and livable,” said Mayor Turner. “This means tackling the problem of abandoned buildings that degrade our neighborhoods, harbor vagrancy and crime, and pose real safety concerns for residents.”
The City’s demolition of dangerous buildings is administered by the Department of Neighborhoods’ Inspections and Public Service division and is carried out by City contractors. The dangerous building legal review process is conducted by the Building and Standards Commission or an Administrative Hearing Officer. Demolition orders issued by the Building and Standards Commission and Administrative Hearing Officer undergo extensive legal review by the City’s Demolition Assessment Panel for final approval.
“The legal process for approval of properties for demolition is complex and can take up to a year to complete and sometimes a little longer,” said TaKasha Francis, DON director. “Property owner rights and protections are strictly adhered to, and that requires significant time. There may be delays in locating the property owner or verifying inheritors, utility disconnections, or working through historic building considerations. Further, budget challenges can delay costly demolition projects, which can range up to tens of thousands of dollars, depending on the type and size of the structure and pre-demolition requirements.”
Since Mayor Turner took office in 2016, 11,483 cases involving dangerous buildings have been resolved, including through owner compliance. DON inspectors aim for owner compliance with a success rate of 68%, which saves on taxpayer dollars that can be used for other abatement projects.
“Ultimately, property owners are responsible for maintaining their properties in compliance with city codes,” said Mayor Turner. “However, when owners fail to comply, we must do all we can to remove the hazards and keep residents safe. Our concerted effort to rid the City of Houston of dangerous buildings aligns with my One Safe Houston and One Clean Houston initiatives, which aim to reduce crime and ensure public safety.”
“Our team of code enforcement officers take great pride in the role they play to remove abandoned buildings that pose hazards for people who live nearby, pedestrians, and particularly for children who may venture onto the property,” said Francis. “A misconception among some residents is that the City is unfairly taking people’s property away, which is not the case. The owners of these blighted buildings are given due process and ample opportunity to comply. Mayor Turner’s initiative is about making neighborhoods safer, giving people peace of mind, and improving quality of life.”