North St. Louis Co. town pushes to hold owners of vacant properties accountable

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by Julian Johnson / News 4 and Ruella Rouf / KMOV.com

KMOV.com

Posted on July 24, 2014 at 10:05 PM

Updated Thursday, Jul 24 at 11:16 PM

(KMOV.com) – A local mayor is upset over residents paying the price for something banks and landlords should cover and is hoping that a proposition could help change things.

In Velda Village Hills, properties with boarded up doors have been empty for years. The mayor wants the property owners to take responsibility.

“The people that are here and own homes are paying their taxes. They’re taking care of all these blighted homes,” said Velda Village Mayor Earlene Luster. Luster wants to alleviate the burden on taxpayers which is why she is a proponent of Proposition 1.

Prop. 1 is aimed at charging banks and landlords who own vacant properties. The ballot measure proposes a $200 charge every six months if the property is not up to code.

“It’s completely about making sure that the neighbors next to the [abandoned] homes don’t have to worry about their property value going down because [the abandoned] house looks so bad,” said Luster.

Luster added that her small town has more than 80 abandoned homes. Most of these homes have overgrown grass or boarded front doors. Thus far, city workers who are funded by tax dollars are responsible for keeping the yards clean.

Luster said the unoccupied homes are also attracting criminals who are breaking in and stripping the homes of copper. Additionally, “you have snakes and little critters running around, so that’s just like a home for them,” added Luster. 

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