Abandoned Houses - WSVN-TV - 7NEWS Miami Ft. Lauderdale News, Weather, Deco

Abandoned Houses

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Most people hope to have a home sweet home but what if your were living next to dump and dump. One South Florida woman has abandoned homes on either side of her and what's being done about it? Apparently nothing, it's why she called Help Me Howard with Patrick Fraser.

WSVN -- From the air, this neighborhood looks like many others in South Florida. From the ground, the residents will tell you it's different.

Renee Fiallos: "I love this neighborhood because it's an historic black neighborhood."

Their neighborhood just east of Interstate-95 is called Model City by some residents, Liberty City by others. Renee's historic house was constructed in 1929 and it's why she bought it.

Renee Fiallos: "I like older houses. I like neighborhoods where each house is different and has character."

Different makes their neighborhood good and in some cases, bad.

Dorothy Baker: "I don't believe I could explain, that nobody would know how I feel living next to this house."

Dorothy Baker has lived in her home just Rast of I-95 for 51 years. Next to this property that has been abandoned for the past two years.

Dorothy Baker: "Gone. I want to see this house gone. Have to use it."

As bad as it is for Dorothy, it's worse for Renee. The same house is on one side of her and on the other side. A home that has been a mess for seven years.

Renee Fiallos: "And because both of these houses are open, they are open and there is no clue as to whose in there, what they are doing and you certainly don't want to go near it to find out."

There are signs of drug use, sex, alcohol, making these houses not only an eyesore but a danger.

Brenda Hadley: "Anyone can go in that house and hide. You pass, they can attack you. Anything can happen."

Brenda was right. A few days after we met with these neighbors, a young girl kidnapped, dragged into another abandoned home a block away and sexually assaulted for two hours.

Brenda Hadley: "It makes us feel like nobody cares, we are forgotten. We don't matter."

This house has a notice on it. It's faded but the date appears to be January 2013.

And on the house on the other side of Renee...

Renee Fiallos: "You are requested to repair or demolish by September 2013."

That request was obviously ignored, so the city posted the September notice again and dated it on the top February 2014.

Renee Fiallos: "Final notice."

But residents are skeptical. They are told things will change, they don't.

Renee Fiallos: "The city has failed us. The city has truly failed us. They let you down, they have let us down and what is so disturbing about it is this is an historic neighborhood."

Well Howard, you live next to this house and this house and this house in this neighborhood, legally, is there anything you can do?

Howard Finkelstein: "Legally, you have to rely on the city or county and in America, you have to be really careful when you destroy a property. There are quite a few steps that have to be followed. Also don't forget, it's expensive for a city to do it and today they are not flush with cash."

I spoke to several city officials. One told me the city is not to blame, it's the owners of those properties and the mortgage holders.

Another city official said we can't keep up for every house we demolish. Two or three more are abandoned and he added, we don't have the money to demolish them all anyway.

But in one respect, the elected officials have to take part of the blame.

Look at the rules and regulations required to demolish an unsafe structure: Step after step winding from one requirement, city officials have to follow to another enough to make your head spin.

Each step takes time. In this one, you have to wait six months to move on to the next step. Over here wait another 90 days. Meaning by the time a house is torn down, if everything goes well, it can be years, as Renee and her neighbors know that well.

Renee Fiallos: "I want them gone. It's a cancer."

Wants them gone. For one more reason you might not suspect.

Renee Fiallos: "This has nothing to do with property values. This has to do with a state of mind. When you come home, when you are coming home from work and you have to look at that, it brings you down."

Patrick Fraser: I spoke to the owner of one of the houses, money was the reason he hadn't fixed it up and that's the bottom line. If the abandoned property is in a pricey neighborhood, it's worth it for an investor to buy it from the bank and fix it up.

In Renee's neighborhood, it would cost more than the house is worth to buy it from the bank, pay all the city fines and fix it up.

Meaning, it will get worse and worse for years until a bulldozer finally shows up.

Beaucratic mess left you feeling abandoned? Wanna dump it in our laps? Go ahead. We don't drive a bulldozer and we don't condemn anybody, but we are decent at cleaning up messes.

With this Help Me Howard, I'm Patrick Fraser. 7News

E-mail: helpmehoward@wsvn.com (please include your contact phone number when e-mailing)

Reporter: Patrick Fraser at pfraser@wsvn.com

Miami-Dade: 305-953-WSVN

Broward: 954-761-WSVN

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