Residents frustrated with blighted properties can call 3-1-1 with complaints

Neighbors say they're tired of looking at the condemned homes on their street. The City of Terre Haute has a plan to tear down blighted buildings but the mayor says to be patient.

Posted: Apr. 25, 2019 5:16 PM

TERRE HAUTE, Ind. (WTHI) - Neighbors say they're tired of looking at the condemned homes on their street. The City of Terre Haute has a plan to tear down blighted buildings but the mayor says be patient.

As of the start of the year, 275 properties made the list to be demolished. A majority of the structures are homes that are no longer safe.

Many have reached out to News 10 voicing frustration over blighted properties and questions about why properties are still standing. News 10’s Heather Good spoke with Terre Haute Mayor Duke Bennett to find out more about the process of condemning properties and tearing them down.

Mayor Bennett says this is an issue the city is working on all the time but it can take a while for a property to be cleared after it's identified as a problem.

Residents can start the process by simply calling 3-1-1 with complaints. A building inspector will then be sent to the property. The city will contact the property owner and work with them to rectify any issues. If the property owner does not comply there is a hearing.

The mayor says the legal process can be lengthy but once a property clears the hearing it can be put on the list to be demolished. The entire process can take an average of two years.

Mayor Bennett says, "We need people to call and tell us. If you've got kids running in and out of a vacant house if you think there's stuff going on there. The more information we can have on a particular home, we can kind of manipulate that a little bit and move that up on the list."

The demolition comes at a cost to taxpayers. Oftentimes a lean is put on a property for $6,000 to $10,000 to cover the work but the mayor says it is not often recovered in full when the property is later sold.

Georgia Tapp lives near multiple condemned properties and says it's not just up to the city. She says property owners need to take responsibility.

"People, basically, on the whole, don't really give a care it seems like, you know? People don't want to cut their grass. They don't want to do nothing. I'm seventy years old. If I can do it, you know, I know they can."

81 blighted properties were torn down last year. Mayor Bennett says the average is closer to sixty.

There is $300,000 in the budget for blight elimination this year. So far, eight buildings have been torn down.

New homes are going up in the area near Blaine Avenue and Buckeye Street. Mayor Bennett says the city spent years slowly collecting properties and tearing down the old, and even dangerous structures.

Mayor Bennett says the work is thanks to a partnership with the Terre Haute Housing Authority. The city collected eight lots over many years. Now four homes are being built. The mayor says more than thirty homes like these are being built in the city. Some will be rental properties but most of them with be available for purchase.

"This is how you revitalize neighborhoods. You take a dilapidated property, you tear it down. It may have to sit for a while as a vacant lot until we accumulate enough but then we have an opportunity to partner with a local entity that will build new housing."

You can contact the Terre Haute Housing Authority for more information about making one of these houses your home.

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