6 at 4 Call for Action: Abandoned Homes

June 8, 2011 3:30:49 PM PDT
One of the most common issues the Call for Action volunteers try to resolve here at 6ABC involves abandoned homes.

Vacant properties cause big problems in residential neighborhoods.

"This house, when I moved in, was abandoned," said Dorothy Wilson of Southwest Philadelphia, motioning to a neighboring house.

Wilson says not only was the vacant property an eyesore, it also became a breeding ground for some very unwelcome neighbors.

"I opened the door and this monstrous big thing had knocked over this big can and dragged it over here. It was a huge monstrous possum or raccoon."

Dorothy said she tried calling various offices and agencies for help, but wasn't getting anywhere.

"It was horrible," she said. "I stopped eating for three days and just prayed that somebody would help me. And then somebody said, 'Why don't you call Channel 6 News?'"

Dorothy ended up talking to a Call for Action volunteer and to someone at Philadelphia's Department of Licenses and Inspections (L and I).

That L and I person, said Wilson, "called me back later that afternoon and told me that house was going to be torn down."

It was lucky for Dorothy, considering there are 40,000 vacant properties in the city of Philadelphia. But L and I only has enough funds to tear down only 500 a year.

Meantime, demolition has begun on the abandoned house next to Dorothy's. And while a lot of work remains, Dorothy is grateful she is seeing progress.

"I'm very relieved," she said. "I feel much better that at least we can see now what's going on here."

There is still a lot of work to do, and there is another abandoned property just two doors away from Dorothy!

The good news is, L and I has launched a new effort to get owners of abandoned homes to fix them up or sell.