Vacant and abandoned homes continue to be a major problem in South Bend, Ind. Now, after months of public meetings, the special task force assigned to tackle this program is speaking out on its progress.
Task force co-chair Jim Kelly said they are aiming to set a clear timelines when dealing with these types of properties. They want to rehabilitate homes within three to five months of discovery and demolish all those that cannot be fixed within three to five years. But, the members also want to put a plan in place that creates usable spaces for the empty lots.
"We are looking for creative ways with side yards and community gardens to make these areas add to the neighborhoods that are really struggling with abandoned properties," Kelly said.
That way, the city leaves a positive mark instead of empty lots lining streets.
"You don't want to trade a vacant house for a vacant lot that is still not being looked after," said South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg. "you want to find an answer for that land."
Buttigieg said he wants to see the rate at which the city handles these properties doubled. And, he also plans to ask the common council for additional funds in the 2013 budget for home demolition.
In the meantime, empty homes still create eye sores for residents throughout town.
One River Park street has had to deal with a vacant home for about two years. The owners of the property at 2826 Pleasant Street have yet to respond to the city after numerous code violations and notifications. The grass is over-grown and trash litters the area. And, safety becomes an added concern at this location because it is next to a primary school.
The City of South Bend said they plan to send a city contractor within 24 hours to board up the house in order to ensure no one is making their way into the empty home. An inspector will also be sent out next to check that the home is secure.
If you have a vacant or abandoned house problem in your neighborhood, you are asked to call code enforcement at 235-9486.