LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) - Drive through west Louisville and you can count them block-by-block: an estimated 7,000 abandoned homes or properties city wide.

“Abandoned homes, people haven't lived in them for I'm going to say 10 years,” Lonet Peavy says. She lives on Madison Street in the Russell neighborhood with boarded up homes on both sides of her.

“Raccoons, possums, to where the possums and raccoons are up on my porch at night,” she said.

But the problem is far from just pests in her yard.

“They can become a safe haven for all sorts of crime and criminal activities,” said Louisville Fire Capt. Sal Melendez.

Firefighters were called to this vacant house at 22nd and Date Streets Friday morning, where fire damaged both adjacent homes. A family was inside one.

At 23rd and Magazine Streets there are 3 homes on one block that are boarded up and abandoned but the problem is much more prevalent than that. The city lists all the homes that are abandoned in Louisville. The list of addresses takes up 19 pages.

Metro Councilwoman Attica Scott chairs the committee on vacant properties. She thinks the city needs to go after property owners more aggressively. 93% of all abandoned properties are privately owned. If a home isn't kept up to code, the owner is fined.

“You get a lien on your property even if you aren't located here and if you're not taking care of it because we've paid for it. I mean my office has appropriated funding for the city to work overtime to cut grass,” said Scott.

But sometimes that's not enough. For the city to finally acquire the property it takes time...and we mean a long time, to the tune of 7 years. Scott wants changes to the law in Frankfort to speed that process along and to get more funding locally.

“We need a dedicated revenue stream to fund the affordable housing trust fund so we can rehab some of these properties and get homeless kids and families into them,” said Scott.

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