News 4 Investigates: The Jungle -

News 4 Investigates: The Jungle

Lee Carter calls it "the jungle."

The military veteran, who lives on 14th Street in the Hyde Park neighborhood, took me on an urban safari to see one of the worst looking properties on his block.

The boarded up building has a lot full of weeds that reach up to 15 feet high. The weeds are thick and Mr. Carter says rodents and bugs are everywhere. That's why he calls it the jungle.

Across the street, there's a home that looks just as bad. It's owned by the Land Reutilization Authority, also known as LRA. The LRA is a city agency that assumes the titles of properties abandoned by their owners.

LRA is by far the biggest owner of dilapidated property in the city. The current list of holdings includes 1,324 buildings and 8,063 vacant lots. The city's goal is to sell this property to developers so it can be turned into nice looking, well built homes that will help revitalize city neighborhoods.

In some cases, LRA has done a terrific job of demolishing eyesores to make room for significantly better housing, but the agency has also failed to tear down many other buildings with little value and no historic significance simply because it doesn't want to pay the cost of tearing it down.

Our story focused on the impact vacant buildings have on families living near them and how the city has responded to the problem.

In many ways, the city has responded well. Thanks to a tax approved by voters, the city has demolished hundreds of derelict buildings in recent years. Again, much of that work has opened the door to longterm neighborhood improvements.

However, the city continues to allow many bombed out looking homes sit and rot away, sending a signal to many residents that city officials don't care about that part of the community.

It's understandable that the city, and many preservationists, want to protect crumbling historic buildings, even if it takes years to fix them. It's also unreasonable to blame Mayor Slay and his administration for all of it since they inherited many of these problems.

But the city's response sends mixed signals to tens of thousands of residents who live near many of these rundown buildings.

It's silly to expect city workers to ride into neglected areas and bulldoze building after building like loggers clear-cutting a forest.

But can't the city at least get rid of the jungles?

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