Lawrence County Board Fights Blight

By Kelly Leighton | Dec. 7, 2020 | 2 min. read

The Lawrence County Board of Realtors® used a Smart Growth Grant from the National Association of Realtors® to help fight blight in New Castle throughout 2019.


The association created a long-term plan to tackle sections of New Castle, specifically the Lower East Side Neighborhood, which had 502 vacant properties and 32 properties in the county in a neighborhood of just over 1,500 properties. LCBR teamed up with Disability Options Network to help build and rehab homes for those with disabilities.

Prior to applying for the grant, LCBR members held positions on Blue Print Communities in New Castle, which is the community’s revitalization organization that works with DON. DON then became the anchor organization to the efforts. LCBR applied for the grant to specifically help with this area’s revitalization. Previously, LCBR had organized clean-ups of the area and helped plant community gardens. The grant gave members the ability to plan a more functional area around the needs of the community by using blighted properties as the starting point.

“DON is totally invested in improving the Lower East Side Neighborhood, and the beginning point for any such improvement involves offering high-quality, accessible housing which meets the residents’ needs,” said Court Hower, DON Services executive vice president of community resources and development. “Our goals include improving the quality of life for residents and increasing the value of the existing market stock of the community.”

The project also aimed to create more walkable neighborhoods, offer attractive housing and strengthen the current community.

“The project has the support of the community,” said Denise Johnson, who was president of LCBR in 2019. “It is wonderful to see how involved the neighbors are invested from their perspective to have input. The enthusiasm is very contagious. It is exciting to see new development in the community where blight had been, unleashing the pride in homeownership. This is truly a labor of love.”

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