Demolishing Nashville's abandoned houses costs taxpayers money - WSMV News 4

Demolishing Nashville's abandoned houses costs taxpayers money

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(WSMV) (WSMV)
NASHVILLE, TN (WSMV) -

Most neighborhoods have a home that’s in such bad shape, neighbors wonder why it’s still standing.

The Channel 4 I-Team has learned that hundreds of thousands of dollars in taxpayer money is being spent on these “problem properties” that owners should be taking care of themselves.

The I-Team’s investigation uncovered that every time the city has to demolish one of these houses, taxpayers are the ones paying for it.

All over Nashville, dozens of houses sit abandoned with boarded-up windows, broken roof shingles and debris in the yard.

“It’s in such bad shape, it's a complete eyesore. The doors are boarded up, the fences, the yard,” said Brad Lopez, referring to a house in his neighborhood.

The I-Team found some of these houses sit for months or years at a time. When the city has to demolish one, it costs the taxpayers.

The cost is $6,500 per house. More than $100,000 has been spent this year to tear down 16 houses that property owners didn’t take care of themselves.

“Nothing has been done. It has stayed the same way as long as I can remember,” said Richard Espenant, a resident of the McFerrin Park neighborhood.

Espenant was referring to a house on Grace Street in the east Nashville neighborhood. He has lived there for nearly a decade. He said sees houses being renovated and others being built. He wants to know why nothing is being done about what he calls the eyesore of the neighborhood.

“When you go to my house, this is pretty much the first house you're going to see before you turn onto my street,” Espenant said.

This is just one example. This house, like many others in Nashville, has been condemned by Metro Codes. But before the city can demolish it, there's a process they must follow.

“We have put the property owner on notice to give them an opportunity to either bring the property up to current code or demolish it themselves,” said Bill Penn with Metro Codes.

And like this house in east Nashville, 48 others are on a list to be demolished. If the city demolishes them all, that would cost taxpayers more than $300,000.

Metro Codes said that money could be saved if people would just take care of their properties either fixing them up or tearing them down themselves. Resources are slim, making it almost impossible for the codes department to go around and find abandoned properties.

"I have a staff of 17 inspectors. That is inadequate to drive all over the city of Nashville,” Penn said.

The I-Team spoke to the owner of the home over the phone about her plans to clean it up. She declined our request for an on-camera interview.

The owner lives just a few miles away and bought the house in 2014. She said she knows it's an eyesore and has plans to clean it up herself in the next few months. She also said both medical and financial issues have caused the delay and apologized to her neighbors for the inconvenience.

"It would be wonderful to see this home restored to what it used to be,” said Whitney Greer, who also lives in the neighborhood.

The owner of that house mentioned she has been given until February to provide the city with plans to clean up the house. It will then be determined whether the house gets demolished.

With only 17 inspectors, Metro Codes needs help pointing out these abandoned properties. To report an abandoned house, call the Nashville Metro Codes Department at 615-862-6590.

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