City looks to address issue of abandoned homes in high crime areas

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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (Dec. 9, 2014) -  A sprawling vacant apartment complex sits near the intersection of 42nd and Post Road, in an area where neighbors say it's not uncommon to hear gunshots. As the city looks to address crime-ridden areas there's a renewed focus to cut down on the number of vacant homes.

Top city officials, including the police chief and public safety director met to discuss the issue on Thursday afternoon. The Department of Metropolitan Development offered possible strategies and resources to deal with abandoned homes.

"Within the past six months there's been four or five homes that people have moved out of and they're just abandoned and the landlords are not taking care of them and I've seen people coming in and out of the abandoned houses like they're sleeping in them," said Lisa Mallory, an Indianapolis resident.

The city announced a plan back in October to focus on six high crime neighborhoods. According to The Department of Public Safety, the estimated vacant housing rate in the six target areas is anywhere from 20 percent to more than 35 percent. Code Enforcement officers patrolling those same neighborhoods found 12,000 violations during the same period of time.

"So we're looking at how we begin to identify those properties what's long term answer for those communities and the short term investment of community involvement and law enforcement," said Police Chief Rick Hite, IMPD.

Metro Development officials want to focus on big transformational projects in these areas. They said a variety of resources are needed outside of the city, including federal grants and private investors.