South Bend officials: fixing abandoned homes fights crime - Fox 28: South Bend, Elkhart IN News, Weather, Sports

South Bend officials: fixing abandoned homes fights crime

It's been no secret, South Bend has faced a violent start to 2014, but what can be done to curb the crime? The city's administration says one part of the problem is blight.

In 2013 a task force was set up to repair or demolish 1,000 abandoned homes in 1,000 days. The city has updated the progress on its website. Among the homes addressed, 105 have been repaired, 71 demolished, and 186 Houses are under contract for demolition.
Riding around South Bend's west side, South Bend Councilman and retired Police Officer Derek Dieter showed FOX28's Faran Fronczak where a lot of of crime is going on, and all the work that still needs to be done. She rode along with Dieter for 3 hours, where they spotted over 60 abandoned homes, 13 on one street alone.
Dieter says these vacant homes are a magnet for crime, and neighbors are fed up. But one man whose decided to take matters into his own hands, Jerome Scott.. "When we came in here, I mean... stems, lighters. You could tell it was a little hang out house, he says.
Scott has started to rehab many of the houses on the city's west side. So far, he's completed about 15. "We only take on what we can that's going to get us some money to keep what we're doing going," says Scott. He says he has received some backlash from the people who used to use the homes as a hangout.

"When you start doing things like this, now, it's like, 'Whoa, I can't go in there and break in, I can't go in there and smoke,'" says Scott. He believes the city will see the best results if they take on blocks of homes at a time, and Dieter agrees. Both say when entire blocks transform, the crime starts to move out too.

The city's goal is to deal with 1,000 properties by November of 2015. The administration admits they're behind, but they say the brutal winter didn't help. The Mayor's office says now that the weather has warmed up, so has their speed in demolishing many of the homes ready for demolition.

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