Sandusky can't keep up with number of condemned houses

SANDUSKY Sandusky houses are being condemned this year faster than the housing board can knock them down. In May there
Sandusky Register Staff
May 24, 2010

SANDUSKY

Sandusky houses are being condemned this year faster than the housing board can knock them down.

In May there were at least 30 properties on the city's condemned housing list.

Now there are at least 38.

Most of those properties are not scheduled for demolition, but might be if their owners don't bring them up to code, officials say.

Many of Sandusky's vacant houses belonged to people who died and didn't leave a will. But housing board inspectors say lack of jobs, predatory lending and a bad economy are causing a rise in foreclosures, prompting people to leave the city and their houses behind.

"There's lots of foreclosures happening now and we do have a lot of vacant properties," said Carrie Handy, Director of the city's Housing Code Enforcement. "Chances are we're going to be getting more complaints as properties sit vacant and they deteriorate."

Most of those properties are not yet scheduled for demolition, but might be if their owners don't bring them up to code, Handy said.

Sandusky police Assistant Chief Charlie Sams says condemned properties increase criminal activity in Sandusky neighborhoods.

"You see crimes from assault to drug dealing, to underage drinking to disorderly crowds, to loud music," Sams said.

On Monday, Sandusky firefighters doused a garage fire at 1618 Adams St., a condemned property.

Firefighters believe the cause was arson and witnesses saw adolescents running from the scene, according to reports.

Neighbors said there hadn't been any crime reported recently, but the house has been a popular hangout for drug dealers and drug users in the past.

"They were breaking in, getting high and doing their thing a few months after it'd been condemned," said Jaimen Gentry, 28, a mother of three who lives one house down.

She also spoke of one man who was arrested for smoking crack in the house more than a year ago.

Clifton McNair, 57, who has lived next door to the condemned house for five years, isn't sure if it's still used for drugs, but he would be glad if the city knocked it down.

"You can tell something's going on, people running out of there in the middle of the night," McNair said. "Ain't no lights, no gas. Police been around there a couple times ... It just don't look good."

Before the city can demolish a house, it has to give the owner or responsible party an opportunity to bring it up to code or tell the city what he or she wants to do with the house.

The housing board conducts final appeals periodically before they schedule a property's demolition.

On July 27, the housing board approved the demolition of four condemned properties, which are scheduled to be destroyed.

The housing board will decide Sept. 11 whether to approve the demolition of at least one other house on the condemned list.

That house, at 127 Neil St., belonged to Precious Garrett before she died in 1999.

The city has knocked down at least 12 condemned properties since 2006.