Vacant home collapses, city official visits neighbor

Vacant home collapses, city official visits neighbor

BIRMINGHAM, AL (WBRC) - Delisa Lee says her complaints about the vacant house next door date back eight years.

"They gave us extra numbers to call. [We] call the council persons, they said it's the mayor's responsibility. We talked to the people in the mayor's office, they said it's the council's responsibility," she explains.

On Wednesday, concerns became reality when part of the house collapsed outside her bedroom window.

"It hit so hard that it caused my house to shake some," she recalls.

"The mayor's office found out about it [Thursday] and we reacted very quickly and got it taken care of today," says Don Lupo, Director of the Office of Citizens Assistance.

A two-man crew from public works bulldozed the house in less than one hour, leaving behind a tall pile of rubble.

"Knocking the house down is the first step. We'll come back the first of the week and dress the yard and level it out," Lupo says.  "There's still work to be done."

Lee is relieved the abandoned house is leveled, but she wonders why it took years for it to happen.

"It could have hit my house," she said to Lupo during his visit to the site Friday afternoon.

Lupo doesn't doubt that Lee has complained about the abandoned home for 8 years, but he says records show the property was entered into the condemnation process much more recently – in 2015.

The city's condemnation process is 14-steps and can be as quick as 90-days, but can often encounter delays, explains Lupo.

"At some point, that roof probably did cave in or the roof did buckle or something like that and that's how it got into the written up system," says Lupo of the abandoned house that was next to Lee's.  "And that's what would start the process."

"The real culprit in this deal is the property owner themselves. Someone owns this property and they haven't taken care of their property. They literally walked away from it and we have a lot of that in this city."

Lupo says the city demolishes around 600 vacant homes every year in the city.

"I'm at peace now because I don't have to worry about it coming down again or falling over on me," says Lee.

Lupo shared his contact information with Lee, in case she has concerns in the future.  "I'm grateful for him, it was a pleasure to meet him and talk to him, because I know someone is actually working behind the scene to make it happen," she says.

Residents should call 311 with concerns about vacant or abandoned homes.  Lupo encourages callers to request a confirmation number, which will track the complaint.  He also says that if adequate answers are not provided, call the mayor's office and city council.

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