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Area College Students Help To Board Up Abandoned North Braddock Homes

NORTH BRADDOCK (KDKA) - Since 1990, the population of North Braddock has dropped from more than 7,000 people to less than 5,000.

That has led to as many as 300 abandoned properties in the town.

This weekend, groups of college students worked to board up those properties.

North Braddock was hopping this weekend as nearly five dozen people chipped in to help clean up some urban blight.

"They need to be demolished, but there is just no funding at any level of government that could remedy the situation," Terry Stell, of North Braddock Cares, said.

So, they did the next best thing for nearly 100 abandoned homes.

"We are not really sure what we are going to get into. You could walk in and there could be holes in the floors, no floors. There could be somebody in there. That's why we go through and board them up and make sure they are secure and make sure nobody can get in," North Braddock Volunteer Fire Department Chief Anthony Rydzak said.

Many of the homes had been vacant for years, which meant they had to clear brush from the lots just to get to them.

Much of the labor was provided by 23 students from Slippery Rock University and nearly a dozen more from Penn State Greater Allegheny.

"If you are trying to buy a house in Braddock and you have an abandoned house next to you, that brings down your property value as well. So, we are trying to get rid of some of that as well," SRU senior Alex Rizzutto said.

"My ultimate goal is to help my students understand that giving back is from the heart and it is something that needs to be done and they grow," Erin O'Malley, of Penn State Greater Allegheny, said.

Volunteer firefighters were there to help -- knowing it helps them in case there is a fire and it helps their community.

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