Like many American cities going through tough economic conditions, Havelock has its share of abandoned homes.
As of August, there were 101 vacant homes in various states of distress, from falling shutters to caving roofs.
In an effort to combat the proliferation of distressed homes, Havelock is seeking to create new building standards and will host a meeting on the subject from 9 to 11 a.m. on Monday at Havelock City Hall.
"We need a little bit of a stronger approach to houses that are dilapidated, like if the siding is hanging off the house or the roof is in disrepair," said Scott Chase, city planning director. "We need something that we can actually go to the property owner and tag them for it. We need something that has a little more teeth than we currently have.
"A lot of towns have minimum housing ordinances. This is our first good approach at a minimum construction standards ordinance for a nuisance type of situation."
Chase said parts of Havelock may be in the throws of an epidemic of vacant homes. He said one abandoned home with broken windows can lead to opportunities for crime, which could lead others in a neighborhood to abandon a home.
Monday’s meeting is open to the public.
"Everybody should come. Property owners should come. Anybody concerned about the well being of their neighborhood should come," Chase said. "We’ve had a lot of folks in the city of Havelock that have expressed interest in an ordinance like this to help preserve their neighborhoods."
Chase said some homes have been foreclosed on, while others have been abandoned by older residents who moved into retirement homes.
"They pass them onto their children and their children live in another town and are not able to take care of the dwelling or the land, and it’s just sitting there vacant," he said.
Competition from new residential rentals in Newport and New Bern has also meant that fewer people are renting or buying aging homes in Havelock. The economy has been a big culprit.
"We’re just dealing with an economic environment that we’re not accustomed to and that has put a strain on Havelock and the nation for that matter," Chase said. "We’re really no different than anyone else with foreclosure housing."
"If you drive through a neighborhood and see dilapidated houses, that’s a sign of a decline in a neighborhood. We want to have a conversation with these property owners about bringing their property up to a higher standard."
For more information, call the city at 447-6400.