Wednesday, June 18, 2008
This is a article from the Plain Dealer by Margaret Bernstein. Its my neighborhood:
A better place to host a congressional hearing on foreclosures Wednesday might have been East 144th Street, just south of Kinsman Road.
On this boarded-up and overgrown half-mile block of Cleveland, there have been foreclosure filings against at least 37 homes since 2006.
Longtime residents of the Mount Pleasant neighborhood say it's the ultimate insult to their once-beautiful block to see how thieves have trashed the empty homes to pilfer copper and aluminum. Up and down the street, windows have been broken out.
Sean Morgan lives in a home his grandparents purchased decades ago. His front door faces two boarded-up homes where he has observed plenty of illegal activity. He has seen people walking down the street pushing shopping carts full of metals stripped from abandoned homes.
"They do it in broad daylight," Morgan said, pointing to two attractive new homes on the block where someone boldly ripped the aluminum doors off the garages.
Those two homes, built by Cleveland Housing Network in 2005, have sat empty since then, sporting boards in the windows just like the foreclosed homes nearby.
"I scratch my head about East 144th Street," said Rob Curry, the network's executive director. "When we did our analysis a couple of years ago, it was pretty stable, but then there was this rash of foreclosures."
Happily, the homes were recently purchased, he said. "It just took the right families."
Charlie Mae Harrison, another East 144th resident, keeps her young great-grandchildren inside because she doesn't want them encountering the drug boys who roam the street.
"I sure want to leave from here," she said. But there's little hope of that, given that there have been foreclosure filings against more than one in four homes on her stretch of East 144th. "There are so many for sale, wherever you look . . . I'll just be stuck here."
Down the street, retired factory worker Lloyd Allen has taken it upon himself to tidy up the house next door to him, another foreclosed property. When thieves broke out the third-floor window and left the glass on the lawn below, he cleaned it up.
"When I moved here, it was beautiful," said Allen, a 50-year resident of the street. "The homeowners were older people. Now they've passed away, the kids took over the property and started renting to anybody."
He, like other neighbors, complained about the crime the empty houses breed. "I bet there's not an abandoned house on this street that has any copper in it."
He cuts the grass on the front yard of the empty home next door "because it looks good for my property."
Anne Spires owes him a thank you, although she doesn't know him. The South Carolina woman bought the home next to Allen through a bank sale, with a partner. She has never seen it. When contacted by a reporter, she said:
"I'm looking for someone to rent it."