The Abandoned Homes of Huntington, WV

Jan 2017

My current hometown of Huntington, West Virginia is no stranger to vacant houses. It’s estimated that around 250 homes in the city are abandoned but that number is declining thanks to an anonymous donation of $100,000 to the city with the strict instruction that it be spent on the demolition of abandoned houses. The city of Huntington matched the donation and got to work. Not only are the vacant properties an eyesore for neighbors, they are also a drain on the surrounding property value and a target for copper thieves and drug activity. Perhaps what prompted the initiative of cleaning up vacant properties in Huntington is the fact that, like most parts of Appalachia, the city is in the midst of a massive heroin epidemic. Last summer alone we experienced the worst overdose rate in the history of West Virginia, 26 in the span of a few hours. Yes I said HOURS. The AP reported that the heroin overdose fatality rate in Cabell County alone is 13 times higher than the national rate. The average cost of demolishing a house is between $8,000 and $10,000 so there is still a long road ahead but at least they got the ball rolling and are making an effort to clean things up.