South Bend woman continues fight against abandoned homes - Fox 28: South Bend, Elkhart IN News, Weather, Sports

South Bend woman continues fight against abandoned homes

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It's an issue South Bend's mayor campaigned on and one we've been covering for a long time.

For the past year, a task force has been meeting to come up with a plan to tackle abandoned homes.

In the meantime, a woman on South Bend's Westside has taken matters into her own hands.

Kathy Oxian has been busy this year, fixing up a number of homes she bought that were abandoned on the street she's lived on for 20 years.

"I care about where I'm living and I care about what it looks like," says Oxian.

Since we first met last April, she's rented out one home and she says several others are almost ready for tenants.

Oxian says it's been tough work, but she can't wait for the city to act.

"Neighborhoods are being destroyed. People are moving out of South Bend because they won't move to these sides of town. What are you gonna do? You gotta do something," says Oxian.

Oxian says she's been waiting for the mayor's task force on abandoned homes to release its plan to tackle the problem.

She hopes it includes some sort of financial aid for homeowners like herself who are taking it upon themselves to get the job done on their own.

"All the funding's coming out of our pocket and we're doing this on our own. I don't see any funding in place whatsoever," says Oxian.

I took Oxian's concerns to Mayor Pete Buttigieg.

"One of the things that's going to be emerging from this is a way to set policies so that when some of these houses are coming onto the auctions and markets, there's a process that creates a fast track for people who are trying to do the right thing," says Buttigieg.

He's not promising the problem will be completely solved, but he says you will see a difference by the end of the year.

In the meantime, folks in Kathy's neighborhood say they appreciate the changes.

"I see a lot of people walking down the street and they often stop and say 'Oh, you all look nice.' And they can just see the improvements in the neighborhood," says Oxian's neighbor, Ronald Womack.

"I had several people stop while I was working and say, 'you're doing a real nice job.' and I'd say, 'thank you,'" says Oxian.

The mayor said part of the plan the abandoned homes task force is finishing up, includes a land bank.

He says it's a non-profit that will make it easier for a responsible buyer to take a number of properties on and invest in them.

He says the plan being finalized by the task force should come out in a few weeks.

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