‘Blight to Bright’ in Colorado Springs
On February 25, FOX21News.com published an article titled Bringing condemned homes in Colorado Springs from ‘Blight to Bright.’
Bringing condemned homes in Colorado Springs from ‘Blight to Bright’
COLORADO SPRINGS, COLO. — Fighting neighborhood blight is a constant battle in cities all across the country. There are hundreds of condemned homes in Colorado Springs. Most of them can be found in older neighborhoods, including the west side and near downtown.
In some cases, these abandoned properties pose a risk to the surrounding neighborhood and end up on the city’s “dangerous building list”. But, despite penalties, tax liens and numerous attempts to contact the owners to clean up the problem, these homes continue to be an eyesore for years – even decades.
“A lot of times when a property is abandoned, it’s an out-of-state owner or it’s someone we cannot get a hold of,” said Tom Wasinger, Code Enforcement Supervisor for the City of Colorado Springs.
As a result, these vacant and dilapidated homes not only bring down property values, they often attract transients and criminal activity. “We’ve had issues with drugs and that type of thing going on,” said Wasinger.
Tax money is used to monitor these homes about once a month. Code enforcement officers try to keep weeds and trash under control and the doors and windows boarded up.
“I wish we could tear these types of houses down,” said Wasinger. “The problem is you get in to constitutional issues. This is someone’s private property and it’s their right to have it.”
Colorado Springs resident Curtis Olson has a different opinion. “I’m a big believer in property rights,” said Olson. “But, I think when the property rights of a condemned and dilapidated home trumps the property rights of a person who lives next door there’s a conversation that needs to be had there.”
Olson started Blight to Bright, a neighborhood initiative focused on blighted properties in Colorado Springs and El Paso County. His goal is to work with government leaders and property owners to develop a comprehensive plan to flush these homes out of the system. According to Olson, many owners are so underwater in fines they feel trapped and are often looking for a way out.
“It isn’t about kicking someone out of their house, because nobody lives in these houses,” said Olson. “This is about renovating neighborhoods.”
Other cities across the country have declared eminent domain and either demolished these types of properties or auctioned them off with the condition they be renovated or torn down within a certain time period.
Because the City of Colorado Springs has a limited budget, taking on that role is not an option, according to Code Enforcement officials.
“There can be asbestos and lead issues that can escalate the cost,” said Tom Wasinger. “It’s not feasible for the city to come in and do the tear down, because eventually we have to get our money back and the taxpayers’ money back.”
But, through Blight to Bright, an established fund with the Pikes Peak Community Foundation, owners of condemned properties can donate their homes, and in return, the organization will handle all legal matters, fines and penalties.
“There are many cities that have done a lot of great work,” said Curtis Olson. “We need to embrace some of their ideas and come up with a plan of action. We need to get moving on it now.”
Please click here to view the online article.
Safeguard Properties is the largest mortgage field services company in the U.S. Founded in 1990 by Robert Klein and based in Valley View, Ohio, the company inspects and maintains defaulted and foreclosed properties for mortgage servicers, lenders, and other financial institutions. Safeguard employs approximately 1,700 people, in addition to a network of thousands of contractors nationally. Website: www.safeguardproperties.com.