Vacant homes get a makeover

November 28, 2016 by  

Five vacant houses in the Southbridge section of Wilmington were recently painted by local artists, who used bright colors to decorate the buildings with images of colorful flowers, people holding hands, and hopeful words. The properties were boarded up, and artists used the boards as their blank canvasses.

Wilmington collaborated with young people and local artists, including James Wyatt, Artist Ave Station, the Smashed Label design company, and the Southbridge Neighborhood House, to turn what could be considered blemishes on the urban landscape into positive, uplifting piece of arts. ‘Paint nights’ were coordinated so local children could help with the project.

Samantha Lukoff, who is heading up Wilmington’s task force on vacant and blighted properties, said it is understood that it will take time to get the homes to the sheriff’s sale and developed by responsible homeowners, and the longer they remain vacant, the greater the likelihood they will become targets for graffiti artists, vandals, or squatters. The answer was to bring public art to the neighborhood, and make the houses beautiful.

Lukoff acknowledged that vacant properties can lead to neighborhood deterioration, so to prevent illegal entry, the city boards up abandoned properties to maintain them and keep trespassers out. The boards are tempting blanks, so the city decided to turn them over to real artists.

Projects like these can benefit if organizers work with flyer printing companies, which can print mailers describing the effort and asking for participants.