City Begins Tearing Down Abandoned Houses

Nicole Ebat

OMAHA (KPTM)- There are about 70 abandoned houses in Omaha that have a date with a demolition team this year. That's up from 17 last year.

The city's landlord task force says getting rid of problem houses will help reduce violence.

"I'm glad to finally get that eyesore down. That way I don't have to pick up anymore trash blowing over there into my driveway."

Sherry Beaugerd has lived near 31st and Redick for 15 years. About a year ago a home across the street caught fire. It's been sitting empty ever since.

With the help of some heavy machinery, that problem is now a pile of trash.

"Now that it's coming down, that eyesore won't be there. It'll be much better."

Monday the landlord task force announced it's backing several pieces of legislation to combat problem properties.

Two bills are in front of state lawmakers right now.One calls for harsher penalties for zoning violations. The other calls for holding back some insurance money from houses that catch fire. That way the city can demolish the building without using tax payer money.

The city council is also looking into ordinances for closed signs that would mark which properties police can enter to take care of trespassers without having to contact the owner.

Another would let landlords give their eviction rights to the city for people who are afraid of their tenants.

"We need to address the problems of abandoned buildings and empty lots and do something to make it safer for the community as well as provide authority for police to do what they need to do," Councilman Ben Gray said.

As for Beaugerd, she's just glad the house is gone and that the city is doing something to clean up the other problem houses around town.

"They're going to be a hazard to the young people running around because you know how nosy kids are and if something's empty they want to go and look and see what's in there and they might get hurt."

It costs about $10 thousand dollars to tear down a house.

The task force say it's worth the investment to help improve safety and property values throughout the city.