PAWHUSKA, Oklahoma - Dilapidated houses in Pawhuska are coming down as part of a plan to make space and attract new housing and businesses to town.

The views are changing for some neighbors in Pawhuska, as houses that have stood for years are coming down.

"They've just been sitting empty so long, no upkeep on them. And they're gone. It's time for them to go,” Pawhuska resident Randy Gear said.

Four houses had work done this week and there are more change on the way. Code Enforcement Officer Steve Hughes said there are 16 more houses on the list to tear down in the next month or so. He said that list is growing every day.

"There's a huge demand for housing. I mean, there is hundreds of people coming to town. The Mercantile itself employees 200 to 300 people, and those people have nowhere to live,” Hughes said.

Hughes said dilapidated houses are not just a problem in Pawhuska, but across the country.

"It's an epidemic. And if code enforcement is not relevant in your town, your town will die,” Hughes said.

An area on 9th Street near downtown is already breathing new life. Hughes said some new houses there will probably serve as short-term rentals for visitors.

"We're welcoming it,” Gear said.

Gear lives across the street from the new houses.

“That brings prosperity over here and all my three houses here, it's gonna bring my property values up,” he said.

Gear moved to Pawhuska two years ago to flip houses and expects nothing but growth in the years to come.

“It’s just a nice place to live. It really is. There's good people in this town,” Gear said.

Hughes said when he started this work about four years ago, he found about 160 homes that should be torn down.

So far more than 50 have been knocked down, so there is still a lot of work ahead.