Purpose to ugliest house contest

July 29, 2009 3:30:01 PM PDT
They're calling it the ugliest house contest. With an inventory of vacant houses numbering several thousand, it would be a challenge to determine which Camden property is the ugliest. Photos of 13 of the sites are posted inside St. Anthony of Padua Church. It is a tongue in cheek idea with a serious purpose.

"We know that the city doesn't always have the money, but we're just trying to keep it in the forefront so people don't forget about it," Brother Jerry Hudson said.

Could the ugliest house be contestant number one? It is a twin burned by drug dealers last month. Contestants 3, 4, 5, and 6 are next to each other. Number 11 has historic value as it is hundreds of years old and believed to be a stop on the Underground Railroad.

For perennially poor Camden, the cost of demolishing these houses is high at at least $18,000 a piece.

Manny Delgado from Cramer Hill Community Development Corporation says leaving them standing also costs a lot.

"You have the drug activity; you have the fires that we've had in probably 12 to 15 just within this block area, so the city's already spending money, maybe not in demolition, but they are in extra policing," Delgado said.

The city did not return calls from Action News Wednesday.

The contest ends on August 27, that's the church's Feast of St. Monica, the patron saint of patience.

Most neighbors believe it will take a lot of that before anything significant changes are made in Camden.