9OYS Special Report: Dealing with abandoned buildings


KINSTON, N.C. (WNCT) – Many parts of the East have a common problem, abandoned or vacant buildings. 

Kinston is home to a lot of people fed up with forgotten buildings.

For Juan Sheppard, Lenoir County is home. 

He says, “I would just love to see Kinston be a safer place. We have a lot of dilapidated buildings. Sometimes you wonder, what is the city doing.”

Dealing with deserted buildings takes money.

“Your hands are kind of tied because there’s only so much money in the budget that the city can deal with these issues,” says Ernie David, the Deputy Fire Chief in Kinston. 

Another issue is homeless, they’re living in places people used to call home.

“You actually got a lot of homeless people and people actually need help, people are begging out, crying out for help but it seems like no one’s concerned about it, as long as it’s not them they could care less,” says Sheppard. 

Crime centered around these forgotten houses and buildings is another part of the problem.

Sheppard pleads, “Stop allowing this violence and let’s come together in harmony and work together. You know let’s not separate the city from the railroad track let’s not have east Kinston and west Kinston.”

Kinston’s mayor is looking for a solution and part of it depends on the people who own the abandoned properties.

“We sometimes need the help of the actual owner to come down and take a look to see what they can do to help us also. It’s a collaborative effort on both parts you know the city and the owner,” says Mayor Don Hardy. 

Another step is getting rid of the old.

Mayor Hardy explains, “We’re actually taking a look at commercial buildings, businesses, we’re looking at houses, we have a list of houses we have that we’re actually going to take a look at tearing down in different areas strategically placed throughout our city.”

Another thing people want is a new place for bringing people together.

“This is my home and also I got grandkids, and not only grandkids but friends here, church members and staff. You gotta give young people something to do. Young people don’t have anything to do. When I was coming up, we had a recreation center,” Sheppard says.

Mayor Don Hardy understands what his city needs.

“So once we tear down some of these buildings, and or houses then you are looking at a safer place to be, it looks better you feel better and we all do better,” he says.

For Juan Sheppard? He has hope for the place he calls home. 

“I would love to see the city of Kinston, the planning committee, the city council, the school board, the board of education, county commission, I would love to see everything come under one umbrella and work together,” he states. 

As Mayor Hardy mentioned, fixing the problem of abandoned and vacant buildings will not go away on its own. 

For more information, you can visit https://www.ci.kinston.nc.us/ or email Mayor Don Hardy at mayor.hardy@ci.kinston.nc.us

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