Trashed Foreclosures Create Neighborhood Blight - 8 News NOW

Desert Underwater

Trashed Foreclosures Create Neighborhood Blight

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LAS VEGAS -- Broken windows, dirty mosquito-infested pools, and weed-filled yards tell a tale of woe. Foreclosures have devastated valley neighborhoods leaving run-down homes in its wake.

New fines should be forcing banks to clean up or pay up but some properties have more than $100,000 in outstanding fines.

Like a metaphor for the housing bubble, everything looked fine from the outside but look inside and something is wrong.

"An infestation of mosquitos that effects 50 homes around it," said Assemblyman Marcus Conklin, a Democrat who represents Las Vegas.

Trashed foreclosed homes are a problem in nearly every neighborhood and it has caused much frustration. That frustration turned into action when a new law allowed for daily fines of up to $1,000.

"You have a responsibility, if you're going to live in this community, to keep your house at least on the outside in such a manner that it protects the value of the entire neighborhood," Conklin said.

Conklin sponsored the legislation in 2009 to enable counties and cities to go after blight of all kinds by levying fines. The numbers are staggering. Out of 12,000 complaints to Clark County in the past 15 months, only eight weren't resolved and resulted in fines. Five of the eight eventually came into compliance after forking over a total of $230,000 dollars in fines. Just three properties have a tab of more than $640,000 and it keeps growing.

There's the shuttered apartment complex on Kolendo in the northeast now taken over by the county. There's the single family home on Red Eye with a slew of fines. From a HUD home to a bona fide mansion, blight is everywhere.

"They are a spiraling downward cycle. They feed unto themselves," Conklin said.

Where you won't find fines is Henderson. "We really give everybody the benefit of the doubt," said Barbara Geach, Henderson Code Enforcement.

Even with the opportunity, Geach wants a more methodological approach. It's called voluntary compliance and it can work because the higher value suburbs aren't hit as hard. It's a more forgiving policy but much slower.

"We're doing letters and we're working with people and we're trying to figure out why can't they come into compliance and is there a way we can assist them?"

The county's problem is much more severe. They have 12 inspector and each one deals with 1000 complaints a year. Conklin fears the worst isn't over.

"Everything that we do that helps slow down the erosion of our home values, the better off we're going to be. Hopefully, it's not too late," Conklin said.

Each city has its own tip line to help identify those unkempt homes and they want to hear from you.

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