CLEVELAND — Some residents living near a condemned home on East 176th Street in Cleveland's Collinwood neighborhood believe the demolition of the potentially hazardous home would make a perfect holiday gift.
Pasa Barnett, who lives near the vacant home, started a neighborhood petition drive and submitted more than 60 signatures to the City of Cleveland, demanding the home be given a date with a wrecking crew.
“It would be an awesome Christmas gift, I actually started the petition," Barnett said. “Nothing good comes from a property like this.”
Angela Hammock and her husband Darryl told News 5 they have been living right next door to the wide-open condemned home for more than two years.
“My concern is that we’re three doors down from a school, there have been vagrants in and out," Hammock said. “I'm constantly chasing inquisitive little children away, so it’s posing a danger and a threat.”
Hammock said she's concerned for her children and grandchildren's safety as well as those in the neighborhood.
“I can’t live next door to this type of activity. I have children, I have grandchildren and it’s not safe for them even to get out of their cars and come to my backdoor, because we don’t what type of element has broken in," Hammock said. "This is terrible, they raise my property taxes and I’m living next door to this and it’s bringing my property value down. The owner has tried to secure the home, but 24-hours later they had destroyed the boards that she put up, so they don’t care.”
News 5 tried to reach out to the owner of the home, who owes nearly $10,000 in back property taxes, but so far we have been unable to get a response.
Meanwhile, it's the same story in Cleveland's Slavic Village neighborhood, where residents like Odetta Fields and Ed McDonald are waiting for the demolition of condemned homes on Harvard and Kirkham Avenues.
“We don’t feel safe walking around here because you don’t know if you’re going to get pulled into one of these houses," Fields said. "I want Cleveland Mayor-Elect [Justin] Bibb to come out and see this area and see how much money needs to be put into the demolition.”
McDonald said while residents wait for the homes to finally be taken down, the City of Cleveland continues to play a cat and mouse game in trying to keep the houses boarded-up and secure.
“They continually board it up, but whoever is doing this continually rips the boards off. We’re afraid that, just as the same down the street, that somebody is going to be found dead inside this house," McDonald said. “We don’t want you guys coming out and reporting on another bad case of somebody being found dead in there, what if somebody drags a kid in that house?"
Ward 8 Cleveland Councilman Michael Polensek said he's hoping Bibb will get key city departments to focus on holding the owners of the condemned homes accountable, get them into housing court and the houses more quickly on the demolition list.
“The Law Department has to be aggressive, and the Building and Housing Department has to aggressive, and quite frankly that’s just not the case," Polensek said. “As bad as this looks, I can take you to a half dozen others that are just as bad, if not worse than this.”
Bibb responded to our story through a spokesperson who issued the following statement:
Thank you for your inquiry. Mayor-Elect Bibb will assume office on January 3rd and in the meantime, we are working to prepare to govern the city.
Many issues will require immediate attention like this one, and we will be able to speak on this topic and others at that time.
Out of respect for Mayor Jackson and his administration, all city matters should be directed to his office until Mayor-Elect Bibb is sworn in
The City of Cleveland responded to our story and is resecuring and boarding up the home on Harvard Avenue, but so far, has not issued a demolition date for the home on East 176 Street.
News 5 will follow up on this developing story.