City Council, neighbors want solutions for abandoned housing

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GREENSBORO, N.C. -- Greensboro City Council members are asking for answers regarding the city's housing inspection process.

The Council asked Director of Planning and Community Development Sue Schwartz to give a presentation at Wednesday's meeting.

"In the electronic system, a good bit of the information is in the inspector's case notes. And there was inconsistencies among the inspectors," Schwartz said, referring to the amount of detail some inspectors include in their reports.

Schwartz says some inspectors write a lot of information while others don't write much at all -- right now there is no standard.

The director says the departments is working on "training and retraining" their inspectors on the computer system and requesting adjustments for certain applications from the IT department for the software.

Ben Holder lives in the Glenwood area is and demanding quick action from the city. He’s concerned because the number of homes that have been condemned and are abandoned may lead to an increase in crime and lower property values.

"It's not a resource issue. It's not a computer glitch," said Holder. "It's nothing more than- it’s on the wrong side of town. If this was over by Friendly shopping center, we wouldn't be talking about it."

Holder’s biggest concern is a home on Union Street which was condemned in August. Since, the home has sat untouched, door open, with toilet seats, clothing and rotting furniture in the yard. A collection of mattresses is on the front porch.

"There's obviously squatters living here," Holder insisted. "[The City] has lots of excuses, but not many results."

Holder has taken it upon himself to check up on the abandoned properties but Schwartz says her inspectors have an eye on them too.

"Inspectors have been, since September, checking on those properties once a week -- checking on their inventory," Schwartz told council members.

Another frequent problem inspectors face is trying to locate and notify out-of-town landlords their property was condemned and must be cleaned up.

Members of the Greensboro Housing Coalition offered their own presentation of problems and solutions, too. They suggested enforcing fines and reducing the number of extensions landlords may be granted when cleaning up problem properties.

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