Portland residents, mayor and PPB join together to fight 'zombie - KPTV - FOX 12

Portland residents, mayor and PPB join together to fight 'zombie house' problem

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Portland city leadership met with local residents Tuesday to work on plans to combat abandoned "zombie houses" which neighbors say are becoming hubs for crime. (KPTV) Portland city leadership met with local residents Tuesday to work on plans to combat abandoned "zombie houses" which neighbors say are becoming hubs for crime. (KPTV)
PORTLAND, OR (KPTV) -

Portland is looking at ways to tackle the problem of abandoned houses throughout the city, also known as "Zombie homes."

Mayor Charlie Hales, leaders of the Portland Police Bureau and local residents sat down to start discussing ways to address the issues at a work session Tuesday.

The issue affects a lot of people, including property owners, neighbors of the abandoned homes and the police.

East Portland resident Sally Bowman told city officials Tuesday how she's had to deal with unsightly, abandoned or foreclosed homes in her neighborhood in the last five years.

She said it got to the point where she was regularly calling police about squatters breaking in to nearby homes, sometimes vandalizing them.

PPB officials believe their officers have had to spend too much time responding to calls about burglars and trespassers at several homes.

The PPB reports 375 zombie homes are in the east precinct alone, and the properties can often become crime hubs.

Officers in the already short-staffed department have to respond to calls at the abandoned homes on daily basis.

During Tuesday’s work session on the issue, Mayor Hales explained how these “zombie houses” are yet another problem, despite the demand for homes in Portland.

“What a disconnect,” he said. “That in a city with a red-hot housing market with a lot of people that need housing, where you can sell a property for a very good return, if you happen to own property, we have houses that are zombie houses and that are an enormous blight in our neighborhood.”

While one solution is to flip these kinds of homes, some people said doing that would prove to be very costly, due to the fines developers can face when fixing up those homes.

Although, the city did discuss looking at what's called a "receivership model", which is being done in other U.S. cities.

In that situation, a group, perhaps a non-profit, might go to court to take over the property and then fix the house up, and try to begin the foreclosure process if the owner hasn't stepped up by then.

Nothing is set just yet, but the city did discuss the problems and potential solutions.

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