DeKalb County Tests Plywood Replacement to Combat Blight

Credit Burke Brennan / DeKalb County

DeKalb County is starting a pilot project to see if replacing plywood on boarded up houses with something that looks like a window – but isn’t a window — will help deter crime.

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There are more than 10,000 foreclosed homes in DeKalb County. County code requires the owners of vacant houses to cover the doors and windows with plywood.

For the next few months, the county’s going to make an exception as long as the owner uses a new product that looks like a glass window but is almost impossible to break.

DeKalb County spokesman Burke Brennan says some members of the county commission have already taken the product, called SecureView, on a test drive. “We hit it with baseball bats; we hit it with sledgehammers, and it didn’t even leave a mark on the stuff,” said Brennan.

Of course, it costs more than plywood, but Brennan the county is hoping there will be an incentive for the property owners. “It doesn’t rot. It doesn’t become a magnet for graffiti. And it doesn’t post a message to the surrounding community, ‘Hey, I’m a vacant house, so no one is here to see you do any criminal activity.’”

If the pilot proves successful, commissioners will consider changing county regulations to require the owners of vacant houses to use the product.