Program deals with blighted houses across Cincinnati

Published: Aug. 14, 2013 at 11:29 PM EDT
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CINCINNATI, OH (FOX19) - The housing foreclosure crisis has led to rash of abandoned homes across Cincinnati. The Moving Ohio Forward Demolition Grant Program is working to change that by bringing blighted properties back to productive use or tearing them down.

At one home in East Walnut Hills, there are no locks on the doors so vagrants can walk right in.

"Homeless people were coming in and breaking out the windows, sleeping in the house, urinating. Feces was in there. They were tearing down the blinds. They were stealing the sinks." Said Sharon Norman who lives across the street.

Long time resident Melvin Lumpkin says abandoned properties attract trouble.

"They've had a lot of drug transactions in this particular yard,"  Lumpkin said.

It's a scenario that happens over and over and brings down property values.  Kevin Wright with the Walnut Hills Redevelopment Foundation says abandoned properties can be reported with the Cincinnati City Hall Mobile app.

"You can see that house pop on your phone. It will tell you the address of the house and you just type in that the front door is wide open, the weeds are overgrown, the windows are broken and the city receives those requests and comes out and fixes the problem," Wright explained.

Bill Jacoby, supervising sanitarian with the Cincinnati Health Department, says his agency is flooded with complaints.

"Since the foreclosure crisis a few years ago, the number of complaints related to these abandoned properties continues to rise for the past several years. We've averaged between 11,000 and 12,000 complaints a year," said Jacoby.

Ed Cunningham with the Cincinnati's Code Enforcement Department says the city has a program to tear down some of the worst properties.

"The Hazard Abatement Program demolishes abandoned, obsolete, dilapidated or blighted property if the owner is unable or unwilling to repair them or demolish them themselves," Cunningham explained.

The demolitions are funded through an $11 million state grant. Up to 600 abandoned homes in the city will be demolished this year.

Gail Paul with the Port of Greater Cincinnati Development Authority says the wrecking ball isn't the only solution.

"There are many other properties that have redevelopment value. They have historic value, and we work directly with communities, very closely targeting those to bring new life to those properties," said Paul.

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