Residents demand old building be demolished due to growing crime rate

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- Broken windows, barbed wire and graffiti are the three ways to describe an abandoned building off of FM 1960, which is scheduled to be demolished soon.

"It houses quite a few homeless people," said property tax agent Phillip Smith.

Not only that, but residents in the area say the building is extremely dangerous.

"Criminal activity, drug sales and building fires. Also gang activity going on," said area resident Mary Joseph.

Joseph said they have been trying to get it removed for the last 15 years. ABC13's chief meteorologist Travis Herzog even received tips about residents complaining about the eyesore on Nextdoor.

She explained to ABC13 that when a violation occurred, residents would contact the health department and they would only Band-Aid the problem.

"Within a day or two, the building would be broken into again. So it was a very vicious cycle," she said.

Just this year, they finally organized a grass-roots effort and got a petition signed, but then COVID-19 hindered their efforts.

Every department working on the matter said they were too busy with other issues.

"So, it was not the time for us to go and start complaining when there were so many other serious situation with the COVID outbreak," said Joseph.

The office of Harris County Precinct 4 Commissioner Jack Cagle said officers have been working with the county attorney's office to possibly file a lawsuit against the owner, but now, finally, that owner has agreed to work with them.

On Thursday, demolition began on the building and should be complete by Sept. 11.

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