Community Fights Back Against Blight

Published 06/04 2014 05:07PM

Updated 06/05 2014 07:24AM

(ST. JOSEPH, Mo.) Neighbors in one St. Joseph community are fighting back against blighted properties. They're pushing the city to either force owners to renovate or demolish vacant homes that they say have been taken over by drug dealers.

Neighbors who live nearby a home on S. 19th Street in St. Joseph say they're fed up with the grass and trash that have taken over the home.

"702 South 19th is a problem," said one neighbor who asked not to be identified.

The home has been vacant for quite a while now and those who live nearby say the home has been taken over by homeless people and drug dealers.

"People running in and out and it's usually during the night or somebody will be up on the roof or just poking a window out," he added.

Neighbors say they're afraid to appear on camera but say something needs to be done because they no longer feel safe.

"The place needs to be demolished and boarded up to keep the drug trafficking out of there," said a different neighbor who also is concerned about the home.

They say they've called the city several times and every attempt to board the home has failed since people continue to lurk. Blight isn't the only problem, the home has now been taken over by rodents.

"Last night I was sitting on my porch with a lady and we noticed these things hopping out of the grass and come to find out they're rats," she said.

The St. Joseph Police Department says if you ever see people prowling around, give them call. Sergeant Greg Gilpin says vacant homes are often used for drugs since they're neglected and easier to disguise.

"It tells people nobody cares about this property and nobody's keeping an eye on it. So maybe we can go in there and do our thing and be left alone," said Gilpin.

Police say with the help of neighbors they plan to send violators a message that they care about the neighborhood and will no longer put up with criminal activity.

"People know that a neighborhood has gotten somewhat organized. I think it gives them a message that they're not going to be able to get away with criminal activity without being seen and without being reported," said Gilpin.

The City of St. Joseph plans to re-board the home but it has not yet been tagged.

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