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In-Depth: Cleveland residents live in fear near vacant, problem homes

Neighbors report gunfire, drug activity
In-Depth: CLE residents near vacant problem home live in fear
In-Depth: CLE residents near vacant problem home live in fear
In-Depth: CLE residents near vacant problem home live in fear
Posted at 9:16 PM, Mar 17, 2021

CLEVELAND — Residents living along a section of East 55th Street in Cleveland report living with daily fear because of a home that has been vacant since 2018.

Tamika Barnes, who is single mother of eight children, told News 5 she has real safety concerns because the abandoned home next-door is perpetuating gun-fire, vandalism and alleged drug activity.

“It’s been real terrible, some nights I can’t even sleep," Barnes said.

“I've seen junkies, I’ve seen younger people, I’ve seen older people come out with different types of drugs. Needles, bullets, guns.”

“They even shot-up my husband's car. We’ve been scrapping and scraping to live in a hotel so we don’t have to live here.”

“They took a brick through my house last night. They broke my kids TV so they don’t have nothing to watch.”

“What if they shoot one of our kids, what if a bullet goes through the house, nobody wants to listen but I hope you listen now because it doesn’t make sense.”

Ralph Stepro, who's lived in the neighborhood for 22 years, told News 5 the owner of the vacant home suddenly died in 2018 and that's when vandals took over.

Stepro said the City of Cleveland tried to secure and board-up the house, but now the neighborhood has been left with an open trash-filled health hazard.

“Everybody has complained, we called our councilman, the health department," Stepro said.

“Rats running around, possums, I’ve seen raccoon, mice are everywhere. Nobody is doing anything about it.”

“Oh it’s a lot of gunfire and you’re talking automatic weapons too.”

"My neighbors are scared, they live next door to it, they’ve got little kids. It’s terrible around here, they broke all their windows out, their cars and everything.”

News 5 contacted Ward 12 Cleveland Councilman Tony Brancatelli about the vacant home and he responded immediately.

Brancatelli said the city is responding and following up on violations issued on the home from the department of building and housing, and the city health department.

He said the home will be cleaned-up and resecured in the next couple of weeks and urged residents dealing with a nuisance home to stay diligent in their approach.

Brancatelli said homeowners should get together, form a block-club and continue to file complaints.

“Continue to call the police, continue to call our office, we can send our board-up crews out there," Brancatelli said.

“We got on it, we went to the health department, we went to our commanders office and then building and housing.”