Trashed homes in Cleveland have housing court community service trying to keep pace

CLEVELAND - A growing number of Cleveland homes inundated with trash inside and out have Cleveland Housing Court searching for a solution.

Cleveland Housing Court Judge Ron O'Leary is trying to step-up court community service hours to help with this clean-up that seems to be endless.

O'Leary explained his clean-up schedule in assigning housing court violators to cleaning trashed out properties is now booked through Thanksgiving.

More than 100 trashed out homes are expected to be picked-up by violators before the end of the year.

Trash and debris, O'Leary said, attracts a lot more than just rats, and is a real neighborhood health and safety issue.

"Anywhere I go in the city I hear about skunks, possums, raccoons," said O'Leary. "We have to stay on top of this problem."

O'Leary said putting violators to work is better than issuing jail time or a fine.

"Having someone doing community work service is really a win win," said O'Leary. "I'm not taking money out of their pockets, that they can use to fix their property, but at the same time, they're giving back to a neighborhood."

Allen Aikens, who is dealing with a trashed out home in his Cleveland neighborhood, is pleased that court-mandated community service is being used to help with the trash problem. Still, he wonders if it will be enough to deal with this serious health and safety issue, which can lead to even bigger problems.

"It's just common sense," said Aikens. "You know it can lead to people breaking into the houses, salvaging scrap and taking stuff, that's your biggest issue. Nobody wants rats and old junk in their neighborhood, we're trying to clean up and keep the street looking decent. I like the program, but we're going to see how it works.  If they improve the neighborhood, we're all good with it."

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