SPARTANBURG COUNTY, S.C. (WSPA) – Wofford College is helping Spartanburg County clear out condemned and abandoned properties. A group of students and professors have visited the Una, Saxon and Arcadia areas of the county.

“We have gone to 500 – over 500 homes – in the three neighborhoods, door to door, doing surveys,” said Dr. Alysa Handelsman.

Handelsman and Dr. Jen Bradham, along with 10 students, have spent months on their research.

Dr. Handelsman said they started their research after the Revitalization Committee for Una, Saxon and Arcadia reached out to them.

“Our big piece is that we want to support the work that’s happening in the community,” said Dr. Handelsman.

They combine their numbers and maps with what they are learning from residents. Through their surveys, they are asking people what they like most about their neighborhoods, what challenges they face and what they’d like to see changed. By doing this, they are learning all they can about dilapidated houses.

“They’re even tracking home ownership and a lot of the homes that are boarded up and abandoned are not from people who live in this community. A lot of cases are people from outside of Spartanburg, outside the state of South Carolina,” said David Britt.

Britt, a county councilman, said the research has shown the impact these houses have on the communities.

“Showing us, statistically and psychologically, the impact it’s having on a community and how a small amount of investment and energy, the difference it can make on a community,” he said.

He said there are more than 150 of these properties.

“It’s an area that just screams help. When you look at the prostitution, the drugs. Again, when you look at the drugs that are going on in this area, the drug houses,” said Britt.

Britt said Wofford’s efforts will help the county take action.

“It’s like a cancer in a community and we’ve got to cut the cancer out and put the right steps in place,” he said.

The next step is what the county’s going to do about it.

“You’ll see some things happening pretty quickly,” said Britt.

The professors said they will complete their preliminary phase of their research in August and continue their next phase in the fall.

They said they’ve been able to continue their research through a grant the college has given them.