By Mike DeNardo

By Mike DeNardo

CAMDEN, N.J. (CBS) — The city of Camden today begins a huge effort to tear-down abandoned properties.

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These are not fixer-uppers. They’re what Camden County Congressman Donald Norcross calls “the worst of the worst” — structurally deficient properties that drug dealers take over.

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“They break into them, they live there, they conduct their business in there under the safeguard of nobody seeing them,” Norcross says. “Thus, they turn into these crime factories.”

Today, Camden begins a $9 million, 18 month project that aims to demolish 600 vacant and blighted buildings in the city.

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The first phase targets 62 properties in Whitman Park and Cramer Hill. Norcross says removing blight is an important step in generating neighborhood pride, and restoring property values.