Desert Underwater: North Las Vegas Program Targets Blighted Home - 8 News NOW

Desert Underwater: North Las Vegas Program Targets Blighted Homes

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LAS VEGAS -- The bank owned signs may have come down, but trashed and overgrown yards are the new mark of a foreclosed home. There are so many that cities are stepping in to clean them up to keep property values from plummeting further.

North Las Vegas neighborhoods have been hit exceptionally hard by the foreclosure crisis. As of September 2011, 5,362 homes had notices of default filed on them. But the city has programs to clean up many trashed houses.

These houses may have overgrown weeds, chipping paint, and boarded- up windows, and that's just what you can see from the outside. Angry owners have done much worse inside.

"(They) steal the appliances, steal the electrical wiring, the copper tubing," said Greg Blackburn with North Las Vegas Code Enforcement. "We've seen sabotages, too, where people will pour concrete down a plumbing drain."

It won't get fixed unless a resident calls to complain. Then code enforcement officials will check it out and if it's bad enough, hire a contractor to clean up the yard to improve the curb appeal.

The yard of 2906 Berg Street was a wasteland of debris and clutter the bank didn't take care of. Over $300 worth of work later, and it looks neat and ready to sell.

"It's up to the banks to maintain them. But as you know by driving through the neighborhoods, banks are not maintaining them," said Blackburn.

Because of that slow response, the city charges them double to fix it. If the bank doesn't pay, the city puts a lien on the house so it will get paid when the house sells.

"The more a property is vacant, the more it is a visual attraction for crime. People go in there and use them as a party house," said Blackburn.

That's what happened inside 3316 Helmsman Drive near Craig Road and Simmons. A gang party led to a fire, leaving the house nearly irreparable.

"This house, I would have to say, is our dog of homes -- our worst property with regard to bring the standard rehab-wise," said Rick Damian, grants program coordinator with North Las Vegas.

It looked like its neighbor three doors down: Stained carpet, filthy bathrooms, and broken cabinets. But $59,000 in renovations from the Neighborhood Stabilization Program and it's ready for a new owner.

"Once its sold, any proceeds from the transaction come back to the city and to the NSP program to recycle it," said Damian.

The federal government has funneled more than $11 million to the non-profit program to buy up vacant, foreclosed homes to refurbish and re-sell to low income families. But in the three years since the program started, they've bought 59 homes and sold 26. Still, Damian believes in its incremental change.

"We're taking a bite out of blight. We're taking a bite out of what the foreclosures and abandonment's do to communities," he said.

Starting in January, North Las Vegas residents will be able to report trashed foreclosures on the city's website and see the progress made on them by code enforcement.

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