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Editorial: Blight-removal money can help many

Blight is never easy to get rid of, and it doesn't matter if you're in Farmington, Minneapolis or New York. Properties fall into disrepair because there is nobody either willing, able or available to care for them. The people who are able to fix them aren't the ones responsible, and the people who are responsible aren't always willing, able or available to take action.

The problem is worse at a time when home foreclosure is a very real threat -- and in too many cases a hard reality -- for many Minnesotans. If you're losing your home, there's not a lot of reason to keep up the lawn or fix the siding. And if you're forced to move out there's nobody left behind to do the work.

The evidence of those problems and others like them has been visible in recent years in Farmington. For far too long a vacant, tarpapered house stood on Elm Street in downtown Farmington. It was an eyesore, and it lingered there with no clear way to get rid of it. There have been others, too. A home on Main Street was was ultimately used as a training location by the Farmington Fire Department and then demolished.

Those houses are gone now, due in part to a program from the Dakota County Community Development Agency. The program provides money to clean up blighted properties. To clear the way for new construction. And, ultimately, for someone else to come in and buy a home, likely at a pretty good price.

Farmington is better off with those blighted properties gone -- the Elm Street property was demolished late last year. All of the houses torn down with CDA money last year were bank owned. Neighbors are better off because they don't have abandoned property bringing down their home values. And some new homeowner is better off for having a new place to stay.

It's a cycle that can have an ugly beginning but a happy ending.