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Abandoned homes raising safety concerns

They affect a lot of cities, many right here in the Wiregrass. To many, old, abandoned houses are more than just eyesores. They can lower property values and attract crime to the area. WDHN's Valencia Jones took a look at some of these houses in Enterprise.
Michael Walters, the Director of Engineering Services for the City of Enterprise, discusses the process of handling complaints regarding nuisance properties.
Michael Walters, the Director of Engineering Services for the City of Enterprise, discusses the process of handling complaints regarding nuisance properties.
"It stops people from moving in, you know, moving to houses that are open around here because of this house.  It makes the neighborhood look bad,” said Lorenzo McCullough, who grew up in Enterprise, across the street from an abandoned home.

People living near the old, abandoned homes in Enterprise say it affects the quality of their neighborhoods, and it’s an open invitation to pests, like vermin. 

"Next thing you know, the whole neighborhood is infected with roaches, bugs, rats and all types of stuff like that," McCullough said.

But they say rats and roaches are the least of their concerns.  They're worried about the children who play on or near these unsafe structures, and they’re also concerned the houses are becoming safe havens for criminal activity.

"From here in the Engineering Department, we do handle most of the abandoned houses.  Nuisance properties are what we technically call those here within the city,” said Michael Walters, City of Enterprise Director of Engineering Services.

Some of those properties are located just down the street from City Hall.  But he says there's a process in place to address the issue.

"It starts off with just a simple complaint from the citizen.  That's really what we need are complaints from the citizens," Walters said.  “At that point, it's going to be writing a letter to inform the homeowner of the situation.  Some of them aren't aware of it."

But it can be a long drawn-out process when the property owner is nowhere to be found.  At that point, the case is referred to the court system for further action.

As mentioned, the city says any complaints regarding abandoned properties should be directed to its Engineering Department.
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