South Bend unveils vacant housing plan - Fox 28: South Bend, Elkhart IN News, Weather, Sports

South Bend unveils vacant housing plan


1,000 homes in 1,000 days.

Mayor Buttigieg unveiled South Bend's plan to address it's vacant and abandoned housing problem Wednesday morning.

Speaking from a house in the northwest part of the city that had recently been rehabilitated he said, "We have the facts and recommendations, now it's time for action.  South Bend can meet the ambitious goal of tackling 1,000 houses in 1,000 days, but only if we all focus and work together."

The plan for those homes is to repair the ones that can be salvaged and demolish the rest.

Mayor Buttigieg stressed that this plan must be a community effort to be successful because the city cannot accomplish it alone.  Some residents have already taken it upon themselves to act on the housing problem.

The plan focuses on 4 areas:

  1. Assessing the problem: Finding out which areas in South Bend need help the most.
  2. Code Enforcement: The city has hired a new Code Enforcement Officer who will determine which houses need to be demolished and which houses need to be repaired.
  3. Land Banks:  South Bend will partner with Saint Joseph County and will temporarily take control of properties that need to be addressed.
  4. Resources and Reuse:  Some of the properties will be turned into parks, others into gardens, the city is looking into other creative options as well.

The plan comes after more than a year of meetings with community members and officials to analyze the problem.

The Mayor presented the plan to the public at a meeting Wednesday night.

Residents had mixed reactions to the plan.

Some say, tearing down homes isn't the answer because it changes the character of the city.

They say instead, the city should hold homeowners accountable for fixing up their properties.

"So now when the house goes down next door and they leave their trash everywhere, code enforcement has to clean it up. Make that landlord responsible and then we'd have money to fix the house next door," says Reverend Greg Brown of South Bend.

Others say demolition is a realistic approach.

"I can tell you, the rats, the mice, the raccoons, the break-ins, I shouldn't have to live with that because somebody wont take the responsibility of tearing down a house," says Brenda Kaiser of South Bend.

The Mayor announced Wednesday that the city is preparing a bid to demolish 50 houses. The submission for that will be sent in a week.

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