My Take Guest Editorial: Blight is a big issue in Richland County

My Take Guest Editorial: Blight is a big issue in Richland County

COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - My name is Joyce Dickerson. I am a member of the Richland County Council. I would like to respond to continuing concerns about trash in our community.

Sadly, blight is a major issue in Richland County.

I first began focusing efforts to address the effects of blight about 2 years ago through Broad River Road Clean Sweeps, where members of several communities along the corridor participated in cleaning up the area by picking up trash and disposing of items.

That was the beginning of my passion to address this issue; realizing that if I did not take a leadership role it could get worse. Last year, I was joined by members of Richland County staff to travel throughout several neighborhoods to make note of blighted areas.

What I saw was unbelievable. We videotaped some of the findings to support the urgency to address this matter.

The need to address blight was incorporated into the County’s revivification project, which, unfortunately was placed on a temporary hold. But my efforts are continuing, in part with the assistance of the County’s Ombudsman’s Office which has been logging complaints and reports of blight -- one household/business/landlord at a time.

Recent County efforts in my Council District have resulted in the removable of mattresses left on the curbs, electronics, inoperable automobiles and other eye sores in at least three communities.

We can make more improvements if more communities took an active role in regular neighborhood clean-ups. One of the communities along the Broad River Road Corridor is really active in doing so – and it makes a difference.

The answer to addressing blight is to institute a coordinated county policy to comprise a unified process to include:

- Landlord Education Reform

- Columbia Housing Authority Reform

- Richland County Sheriff Departmental Engagement

- Housing and Urban Development Involvement

And last but not least, community action to engage citizens in a “keep neighborhoods clean” initiative.

I will continue efforts to bring awareness to the issue of blight and work with others to formalize real solutions. I hope you will join me and my colleagues on Richland County Council to make our community more livable and enjoyable for all.

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