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Louisville has battled with a vacancy problem for decades. Homes left abandoned and boarded up, creating problems with both aesthetics and safety. Monday, the mayor and a panel of city leaders announced their plans for these vacant and abandoned homes, setting big goals to get rid of the problem all together.
Lucious Green lives in a west Louisville neighborhood riddled with abandoned or vacant properties. He is deeply invested in his neighborhood.
"I spent $140,000 in that neighborhood, I have got to love it," said Green.
With ten properties in the area, he came to the public forum concerned with the look and well being of his community. But he also came with frustrations over the empty building behind his home.
"Either come out and fix it up, and let someone buy it, or rent it, or let us buy it," said Green.
At the first of many bi-monthly public forums on vacant properties, it was standing room only for home owners, like Green, who came to hear about the city's plans for these homes.
"This is a long journey. This problem came about over decades, and it is not going to be solved overnight," said Mayor Fischer.
As part of the plan laid out in Monday's meeting, Fischer said they will reduce vacant properties by 40% by 2015, and 67% by 2017.
Also a part of the plan, the panel said that they plan to demolish 100 homes a year, and foreclose on 100 homes a year. By doing that, the city hopes neighborhoods heavy with blight will start to look more welcoming to businesses, and become safer.
But not everybody is pleased with that plan.
"Maybe somebody just needs help, financially or legally. So why not go in and try and help them instead of trying to take the property or demolish the property," said Dina Green.
Metro council members representing neighborhoods with high vacancy rates are pleased with the bold goals set forward, but say the bi-monthly meetings should move closer to the people.
"I just wished it was in the neighborhood where the problems are," said district 5 metro councilwoman Cheri Hamilton.
"I'd like to see more emphasis on community involvement and community engagement which means we are going to have to have more of these in the evening when folks get off of work," said district 1 councilwoman Attica Scott.
The next meeting is set to take place June 25th at 9:15 a.m. The remainder of the bi-monthly meetings will take place in the morning as well.
City leaders also said current state laws get in the way of clearing away abandoned homes. For example, by Kentucky law a house must be vacant for 11 years before the city can take it over. Local leaders, like Scott, would like that reduced to about five years.
"11 years of a house just sitting and withering away is destroying a neighborhood," said Scott.