New site sells city's abandoned homes
Rich Van Wyk/Eyewitness News
Indianapolis - The city has a new weapon in the fight against the crime and blight abandon homes bring to neighborhoods. Their negative impact is spreading from the inner city to suburban subdivisions.
Abandoned homes often become crime scenes. Over the past several months, Eyewitness News has covered stories of suspicious fires and shootings near or at abandoned homes. Now, a city battling the crime associated with abandoned homes is looking to make a deal.
City leaders are starting with bids on the internet via a new site, The Indy Land Bank, on abandoned homes the city now owns. Bidders can land a home for $5,000 or make their own offer.
"We have room to negotiate there," said Duane Ingram, manager of Land Bank. "This is not a drop dead amount."
Mayor Greg Ballard made his fight against abandoned homes a top priority in his successful mayoral bid last year. Such homes are eyesores that lower home values in the neighborhood and attract crime. The land bank is seen as the city's biggest weapon in taking on the problem.
Seizing tax delinquent properties and selling them on the internet is a significant piece of plan in the works that Sherron Franklin oversees.
"Instead of holding on the to property, you are giving it back to someone who can redevelop the property," said Franklin.
The properties at Indy Land Bank are cheap, and certainly qualify as fixer-uppers. For example, a listing in the 1300 block of North Ewing is appraised at $7,750.
Just how many homes are abandoned in this city? No one really knows, because the administration is only now beginning to count them all.
Police are now entering abandoned and vacant properties into a computer database. City agencies promise to board up and secure dangerous homes within 24 hours of discovery.
Franklin said the city would need "48 hours if it's a nuisance property where there are drugs, prostitution, people hanging out."
The economy, mortgage crisis and foreclosures are making the problem worse. Once limited to poor inner city neighborhoods, vacant and abandoned homes are now common sights in suburban neighborhoods too.
It takes around six weeks to close a deal through Indy Land Bank. The city has around 100 properties in the Land Bank now, but there could be several hundred more properties added after a tax sale in October.