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Warning letters worry Cleveland neighborhood

Posted at 4:55 PM, Sep 16, 2016

People living in a west side Cleveland neighborhood told our investigators they feel like they’re under attack. Letters are going out warning them to fix up their properties but neighbors said there are errors and other problems.

“I think I’m being harassed by the city,” said Joe Heth who told us he’s lived on Pear Avenue for the past 23 years. He said he hasn’t been bothered about this property, but he got a letter from the Detroit Shoreway Community Development Organization (the local CDC) two weeks ago that’s left him “frustrated and angered.”
The letter claims there’s high grass and weeds, trash, junk, and debris. When we went out to his property, we didn’t see that and Heth explained he has not done anything to his property since the letter arrived.

He does have firewood on the lot that he chops up and uses for heating. “ I had an inspector, years ago as he was walking by, he goes, ‘That’s firewood, right?’ I said, ‘Yeah.’ He said, ‘No problem, then.’ But now it’s a problem,” Heth told us.

The letter also said there was an “inoperable vehicle” on the property. Heth started it up and showed us differently.

There is some rehabbing and new development happening in the neighborhood that mixes new homes with older, established homes. We talked to Detroit Shoreway and reps told us they are only trying to help the people maintain their homes and find them resources for doing just that. It doesn’t matter the income, race, or age of the residents and they want open communication with neighbors.

They did admit the letters are “firmly worded” but it’s all in an effort to protect property values.

People like Martha (who didn’t want to use her last name), though, said she’s worried the letter are just a way to get older resident to think twice about living there. She’s been on the block 40+ years. “I hope they just leave us alone and we can stay here in our homes and just let us fix them up as we can,” Martha told us.

Heth hopes the letter don’t get to the point of violation notices. “And end up fining people who where people end up moving out,” said Heth.

Detroit Shoreway said it’s not trying to make people move.