'Zombie homes' causing frustration for Lents neighbors

Zombie homes in Portland causing frustration

PORTLAND, Ore. -- Neighbors of so-called 'zombie homes' in Portland are fed up and are calling on the city to deal with them faster.

They say not only are the derelict homes an eyesore, but they're dangerous and devalue the property around them.

On Southeast 88th Avenue, across the way from Lents Park, sits a home that’s overgrown, covered in black soot, with a collapsed roof. It’s a shell of what it used to be.

“It was a very nice property at one time,” said Thomas Legg, who has lived in the Lents Neighborhood for about 20 years.

He said first, the homeowner died, then it became a drug house, then the house sat vacant. That is, until squatters took over and torched the place.

It’s been about six years.

“We've been inside this house. There's hundreds of syringes. There was human defecation in every corner,” said Legg.

That's why he and many others want the city to act faster to address the issue, and hold whoever owns these properties accountable. Their frustration isn’t just over the zombie home near Southeast 88th Avenue and Liebe Street.

A home, surrounded by a locked fence, sits near Southeast Holgate Boulevard and 97th Avenue. Right across the street, there’s another one.

“It detracts from the overall neighborhood from the standpoint that nobody’s going to come in here to buy a house on the street. Not when they have that to deal with,” said Hank Betterly.

Betterly said folks living around him have tried writing the city about their concerns.

“But nothing happened,” said Betterly.

He said two or three years ago someone with the city told them the zombie homes would be torn down. But they're still standing. He said it's disappointing.

“We've just about given up waiting for someone to come in and really get the doggone thing going because you just don't seem to get heard,” Betterly said.

Ross Caron, manager for the Bureau of Development Services for the City of Portland, said dealing with these types of homes takes time because they often go in and out of compliance. But people living in the Lents neighborhood say something's got to give.

“It ultimately costs the city a lot more money to deal with it. It's a waste of resources, just going through these stop-gap measures and putting a band-aid on a major wound,” said Legg.

There will be a foreclosure hearing for the home near Southeast 88th and Liebe on Aug. 2. Caron said if there's no resolution, the plan is to have it demolished.

The group Lents Neighbors for Justice will be holding a rally in front of the zombie home across from Lents Park this Sunday from 1-3 p.m.

Their hope is to get the community together and talk about possible solutions.

© 2017 KGW-TV


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