Elon law students help address problem properties in Greensboro

This is an archived article and the information in the article may be outdated. Please look at the time stamp on the story to see when it was last updated.

GREENSBORO, N.C. -- As the City of Greensboro works to clean up problem properties, Elon law students are researching how they can help.

One of the school's clients for its winter-term project is the Greensboro Housing Coalition. GHC is a non-profit trying to solve issues around substandard living conditions and lack of affordable housing in the city.

To begin their project Tuesday, second-year law students visited a problem property off Whittington Street where Greensboro police officers explained why condemned and vacant homes are such a strain on the city.

"The reason that was boarded up is because of prostitution and narcotics," Officer Larry Roberts said. "Once we get certain amount of complaints from a patrol officer on a nightly basis, we have to step in and get it boarded up or get it condemned."

The home he pointed out was condemned after Officer Roberts realized it didn't have running water; it was no longer safe or healthy for anyone to live in.

But as the property sits empty, it could continue to drain city, police and fire resources.

Elon Law student Victoria Hinton said she was looking forward to a project that could really help the community.

"Essentially what we're trying to help them do is figure out a way to take properties like you see here, a lot of them that are condemned, and essentially try to buy them, renovate them, and resell them. We're trying to figure out various legal options for them to be able to do this."

Jana Raczkowski with the Greensboro Housing Coalition said she hoped the city could really implement the ideas the students develop. "There are so many empty properties around Greensboro that could hopefully be changed into affordable housing for the low-income families who struggle to find decent and safe housing here in our city."

Hinton said, "The big thing is trying to renovate these properties but keep it affordable for people who eventually move in."

Officer Roberts said there were 98 homes on the city's demolition list and at least 300 properties with complaints.

"We can hopefully change these vacant, dangerous units or homes into something where families can thrive and live and provide a safe, affordable place for their children," said Raczkowski.