There’s an epidemic in Zanesville and numbers continue to rise. Abandoned homes are causing problems in the community from creating eyesores, dangers and a place for drug deals.
Robert Pearce lives across from a burnt out home at 1104 Putnam Avenue throughout his years living here the home has had a ugly past including drug overdoses and prostitution.
For Pearce his days of living across from the eyesore may be over. Attorney General Mike DeWine has set up a $75(m) grant to tear locations like this down across the state. In hopes that property values will rise.
"You just think if I was living in this neighborhood, how bad it would be if I had to put with this, or in this case kids or grandkids play in the neighborhood when you have a house falling down," said Attorney General Mike DeWine.
In Zanesville alone there were 403 vacant properties in 2008. Code Enforcement Supervisor Tim Smith estimates based on accelerated foreclosure rates that number in now between 500-600. 35 of those warrant demolition.
"They come on the scene faster then we can keep up with them," said Smith.
These properties are also under the watchful eye of law enforcement who have to deal with inquisitive kids checking them out, homeless and possibly even drug dealers.
"We’ll find people that have taken up these homes and produce meth and deal drugs out of them," said Muskingum County Sheriff Matt Lutz. "The more we can get down the better. It’s going to be better for us and less places we have for them to go."
Pearce said he’s experienced homeless going into the burnt out building, but his main concern is what comes with summer’s heat.
"The big thing is animals, so we have a lot of animals, high grass in the summer and the city can’t keep up with it," explained Pearce.
While DeWine doesn’t have all the details of the grant ironed out yet, he said he hopes that cities receiving funds will be able to put in matching money, so that this $75(m) can go even further.
Funding from the grant came from a portion of the $335(m) received in a joint federal-state settlement with five of the nation’s larges mortgage servicers over foreclosure abuses, fraud and unacceptable mortgage practices.