Several years ago I wrote an article for a real estate news website about how new construction isn’t greener. Old houses can be retrofitted to be more energy efficient. Tearing a house down is a huge waste of resources. Building a new house is expensive and resource intensive.
Houses in St. Paul get torn down and that makes housing more expensive because we don’t have enough of it and are not building more. There are vacant lots all over the city. Most are purchased by adjacent neighbors and used to grow grass or for a garage or for gardens or all three.
The city of St. Paul condemns houses stating that there are multiple code violations. The owners are not permitted to live in the houses. These houses are singled out for special treatment. They undergo multiple inspections by city inspectors and must be brought up to code. See The city of St. Paul is cruel to the elderly
As these houses sit with the owner’s belongings still in them they can slowly rot away and may eventually be torn down. The owners will have to pay for a $5000 dollar permit and of course, the $550 so that the city can find all items that are not up to code. If they have any money left over after paying the fines and thousands in property taxes they may be able to fix up the house.
If you are familiar with St. Paul you know that are housing stock it very old. The city-wide median age is 100 years old which means half the houses in the city are older than that. Building codes continually change and most of our houses are not up to 2023 building code.
The demand for housing is high. We really can not afford to lose more single-family homes. Destroying housing isn’t good for the environment nor is it could for the future of the city. Next time you hear about a home slated for demolition in your community contact your district council and fight to save the house. In doing so you will help save St. Paul.
Current rules and laws have not kept up with the aging population and things are going to get worse unless we make some changes. We need to figure out how to save the houses and help the owners. Houses can be repaired, restored, and even retrofitted.