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Vacant buildings are indicative of the urban decay plaguing our city, and I propose they be torn down. This process would eliminate the numerous safety hazards they cause, such as fire hazards or structural instability, in communities like Kensington. Additionally, demolishing them would reduce the possibility that they’re used for inconspicuous behavior, such as loitering or meeting up with strangers, which may further harm our society.

Instead, once the buildings are torn down, the vacant space should be used to create community gardens. The benefits of such include strengthening relationships within one’s community, allowing access to healthy foods, and making sustainable use of the property.

My parents own their home. It’s a two-story row house located in the Kensington area. I am fortunate enough to have a backyard, which is not a reality for many. Ideally, we would live in a less neglected area, but we do our best given our financial situation.

On my block and on the way to school, trash and needles litter the sidewalk. People do not seem to consider others when they toss their trash.

Additionally, my family would like more privacy. To accommodate the large population in our city and neighborhood, row houses share common sidewalls. As a result, what is going on in one house can be heard by the neighboring one. People like me and my family want to live in a community where privacy and property are respected.

Vacancies respect neither of these. They provide more opportunities for commotion and clutter and more missed opportunities for city intervention.

The building at the end of my block was temporarily vacant, and people complained about the trash piled up inside. My neighbors heard rats from the other side of the shared wall. The property was a safety concern for the community. No one understood why nothing was being done to fix the problem.

Eventually, our concerns were addressed, and renovations began over a month ago. It was a welcomed improvement. The lingering smell stopped. The noises stopped. The complaining stopped. The problems caused by the previously vacant building were gone.

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Editors: Claire Wolters, Jillian Bauer-Reese / Story Designer: Jillian Bauer-Reese / Translator: Kristine Aponte