Houston City Council approves ordinance to raze abandoned homes, resell land


Mary Hobbs has lived in her Midtown home since 2005 and the only thing that's changed is the condition of the lot next door.

"I've talked to people and they came out to here, viewed the property. The police have come in and got some of the transients out, but nothing's happened," she said.

According to the city, the lot on Ruthven is six years delinquent in paying city taxes. But under a new program, it could be demolished and the land resold by the city.

"We believe it will be very beneficial in helping turn around blighted properties," Mayor Annise Parker said.

Parker was happy to see city council pass the so-called Strike Off ordinance, which targets rotting delinquent properties.

Of the hundreds across the city, records show a property on Mainer as being the worst. It is 27 years delinquent, owing more than $22,000 in city taxes. Now, once the property is formally foreclosed, the city could resell the land and recoup some of the taxpayer's money.

"We'll be strategic, as much as we can, in areas where we know there is interest. We might be able to fix them and turn them over quickly," Parker said.

While there are hundreds of delinquent properties across Houston, the city wants to focus first on areas where there is more interest for redevelopment.

That's raising hopes for Hobbs, who says there is no reason for properties to rot away in Midtown, especially in a hot real estate market.

"I don't think the property is really safe," she said.

Authorities are hoping the new strategy will convert blighted homes into new ones.

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