City hall tackles neighborhood problems with abandoned homes

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Bringing stability to neighborhoods with scores of abandoned homes brought an eager group to city hall to engage in discussion about the problem and options.

One estimate is there are more than 12,000 abandoned homes in the city and more if commercial property is included.

The city which has a vacant property registry created four years says more than 21,000 properties are listed. Some of those properties are not vacant, just in default because of mortgages not being paid.

"I got people who are homeowners who told me they are just trapped, they cannot sell their house," said Councilman Bill Gulliford who hosted a meeting that also included Hope Now--a Washington, D.C. based organization that gets involved in this type of issues.

Various non-profits were eager to learn details about creating an organization that would spearhead a community partnership to get abandoned property in the hands of people to make vacant property viable once again in neighborhoods.

Hazel Robinson who lives in New Town just west of the Downtown says anything that can be done would be helpful. She has a vacant home directly across the street from where she lives.

"When you have more than just one it makes neighborhood look bad," said Robinson.

No decisions were made on Monday following the 90 minute gathering that attracted a huge crowd.

"It is going to be a very long and involved process," said Gulliford who noted the city cannot afford to let neighborhoods fall deeper into decline because of influences outside their control.


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