Wednesday, April 23, 2014

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Abandoned houses still a plague on the city

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Buffalo: Abandoned houses still a plague on the city
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It's one of the biggest quality of life problems in Buffalo: abandoned houses. Just over five years ago, the city launched an aggressive plan to eliminate thousands of abandoned houses. YNN's Kevin Jolly talked with one resident who says it may not be moving fast enough.

BUFFALO, N.Y. — If you want to know how bad the abandoned house problem is in Buffalo, just ask Tempest Thomas and Demetrius Johnson. They live on Smith Street in the Fillmore District, right next door to an abandoned house.

"I called the city numerous times to ask them if they can come and board it up and bait for the rats and stuff that be outside," said Thomas. "They failed to do that. I think these abandoned houses are becoming more of a problem in Buffalo because no one is feeling to take care of the problem and it's causing rats and other animals to chew through the properties and destroy our homes."

Some say the Fillmore District is the epicenter of the city’s abandoned house problem, with literally hundreds of dormant and run down properties.

"You gotta get rid of all those shacks that have been run down to the ground, that are endangering property values, that are endangering people’s lives. They can set fires in them, drug dealers stash stuff in them," said David Franczyck, (D), Fillmore District Councilmember.

“We have a priority on how we do demolitions, health and safety first. Those are the ones that go first,” said Buffalo mayor Byron Brown.

Since launching "5 in 5," an aggressive effort to demolish 5,000 abandoned homes and properties in five years, the city has torn down about 4,600 houses. Brown says it costs between $16,000 - $20,000 to demolish an abandoned home.

Brown says while the city still has money in its budget for the demolitions, he would like to see at least $30 million from the state and $3 million in federal dollars over the next three years to keep the program going.

"If that request is honored we would be able to get every structure down that needs to be taken down in the city Buffalo in seven years," said Brown.

Meantime, Tempest and Demetrius say they're still waiting for some from the city to show up.

"No one's come out. When I call back, they tell me it's because the city has a lot of calls like this. It's not a big concern someone would get out to it," said Thomas. ClientIP:, UserAgent: CCBot/2.0 ( Profile: TWCSAMLSP