War on Blight Could Help Bring Crime Rates Down

Danville, VA-- Blighted housing and crime are two big topics that seem to go hand-in-hand in Danville.

On Thursday, the City Manager presented ways to tackle blight at the Coalition for a Safe Danville's meeting. Danville Police also released the 2012 Preliminary Crime Report, which showed a slight decrease in crime. City officials say fighting blight could bring it down even more.

According to the Danville Inspections Department, there are 2,000 blighted homes in the city, and city officials want to target it and get rid of it.

"We need to remove those houses or we need to be sure they're fixed up and repaired properly," said Jerry Rigney, the city's inspections director.

The city already has some regulations in place to reduce blight but apparently it's not enough.

Now, they're declaring a war on blight, proposing to implement more tactics, like expanding their rental inspection districts and a new vacant house registration program.

"Some of the people that we've talked to, that have vacant houses, haven't been by the house in years, sometimes, five, 10, 15, or 20 years," Rigney said. "So this is a program that would require them to go by and check on the house and make sure it's okay."

A solution like this is good news for Danville Police.

"Blighted houses are used for a couple of things, one being for criminals hiding their stolen property, another would be for criminals using them for safe havens, conducting other activities like prostitution, drug use, drug sales, those thing like that," said Chief Dean Hairston.

So they hope fewer blighted houses will mean fewer crimes in Danville.

"Well what it does it takes away their base of operation," Hairston said. "They don't have a hiding place. It makes it more difficult for them to commit the crime."