May 12, 2014 9:05 PM by Tom McNamara and Paul Birmingham
Many Tucson neighborhoods were hit hard by the economic downturn. Vacant homes in some of those neighborhoods are now targets of vandals, and worse.
The News 4 Tucson Investigators wanted to find out exactly what's the City of Tucson is doing to deal with the issue of homes that are vacant, and falling into disrepair. The properties create blight for neighborhoods, invite crime, and lower property values for those who live near the homes that have seen better days.
Wherever you look in Tucson, you're likely to see neighborhoods that have been hard-hit by the economic downturn, and the foreclosure crisis that impacted Tucson and the rest of the nation.
With every weed that pops up, the frustration of those who live near the homes also grows.
"It's been getting harder and harder and harder to work with the city and get them to do their part. What they're supposed to do. To get them to come out in a timely matter to address things before that broken window turns into a worse problem," says Joseph Miller, President of the Midvale Park Neighborhood Association.
"For standard property maintenance violations, such as weeds, trash, it takes us two to three weeks before the inspector can do an initial inspection," says Teresa Williams, Code Enforcement Administrator with the City of Tucson.
"Our top five violations are weeds, trash and debris, storage violations, junk vehicles, and then people performing work on their buildings without obtaining a permit first," Williams says.
"We still have to respond to all the complaints. Our complaints haven't gone down. We're not turning away complaints. So, the workload is still there, it just takes us a little longer to do it," Williams says.
Part of the problem comes down to money, or rather, a lack of it. Williams says the number of City of Tucson Code Enforcement inspectors have continued to drop over the past several years.
"We've lost staff over the past six years due to budget constraints. So we're still going out, responding to all the complaints that we get. It does take us a little longer to do it. A little longer to follow-up, just because the case load has increased for all the inspectors that are remaining," Williams says.
Now, it's up to city leaders to figure out how to come up with funding to hire more inspectors, or losing more of the current ones.
"When you're next to something like this, you know. You're looking for another house right away. It's an emotional thing. You know the nuts and bolts of it is a practical problem, but the emotional side and what it does to a community emotionally is really trying." Miller says.
You can send a complaint to the City of Tucson Code Enforcement via this link.
If you have something you'd like the News 4 Tucson Investigators to check out, email us, at investigators@ kvoa.com, or call the News 4 Tucson Investigators tip-line at (520) 955-4444.