Chapter 2: Hurdles to clear

jwilkinson@thestate.comJuly 3, 2008 

Crime — clustered around large, poorly secured apartment complexes — is the most evident and dangerous challenge to North Columbia. But it is not the only thing holding back this area of great potential.

Criminals use abandoned houses as refuges. Many landlords are absentee and do not keep up their properties. Children attend schools that in some cases are underachieving.

North Columbia is a vast area of 40 neighborhoods that encapsulates almost all that is good and bad in the city

In this project, The State newspaper is taking an in-depth look at both the area’s challenges and its promise.

The challenges are real:

• North Columbia had more abandoned or boarded-up houses in 2007 than other areas of the city combined.

• Numerous landlords live far from Columbia and do not maintain their property.

• The area has the lowest per-capita income in the city.

• Five schools that serve the area are on the state Department of Education’s watch list for underperforming schools.

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