CLEVELAND — Myra Basim is tired of living in fear and dealing with the health and safety concerns she and her neighbors say are being caused by a vacant and condemned home that’s still standing in their Glenville neighborhood.
Basim told News 5 she and her neighbors are coping with illegal dumping, rodents and alleged prostitution, which are being attracted by the abandoned property that’s been left wide open.
“This house needs to be taken down. It needs to be done immediately,” Basim said. “There is likely prostitution going on at this property. Men driving in cars, and they’re parking on the side, and think that I can’t see them, and you can imagine what they’re doing.
“And I’ve had to come out and yell and complain and threaten that I’m going to call the police. It’s beginning to be a pattern here, that they just figure, well, it’s hidden. No, you’re not hidden, I can see you.”
Myra’s husband Jamal said he’s contacted the City of Cleveland several times about the problem home for more than three years, but the house is still standing.
“Actually, my wife and I grew up in this house, playing as kids at the age of 12,” Jamal said. “And I don’t need rodents tearing up my property. My wife doesn’t even want to come outside because of raccoon and all that. Because like I said, it’s a safety issue, and it’s not healthy, and people are constantly coming over and dumping stuff.”
According to Cuyahoga County records, the house fell into State of Ohio ownership in March because the property went into forfeiture after no one wanted to buy the home at multiple sheriff’s sales.
Blanche Bates lives across the street from the nuisance property and believes the state and city need to take responsibility for the potentially hazardous home.
“Well, I think if the state owns it, they need to do something about it. There isn’t anybody that wants to live in it,” Bates said. “It’s just an eyesore. Who wants to look at it? Whether it’s me, or you, or anyone else, who wants to look at it? And who wants it next door to them or across the street?”
News 5 contacted Ward 9 Councilman Kevin Conwell about this case, and he pledged to have the Department of Building and Housing re-secure the home and step up police patrols. However, Conwell said once a home goes into state forfeiture there are delays in getting the home taken down.
“We probably won’t have the house razed until June or July because it’s not the City of Cleveland, it’s the state,” Conwell said. “We’ll send police community service out while Building and Housing boards the house up.”
News 5 also contacted the Cuyahoga Land Bank, and it confirmed state forfeiture of distressed homes is a growing issue, with the agency taking in more than 200 state forfeiture homes for renovation or demolition in just the past year.
Land Bank leaders said there are some 600 Ohio forfeiture homes in Cuyahoga County, with 300 of them still occupied, which makes it even tougher to manage.
The Land Bank said it’s applied for an Ohio Department of Development grant to help take down the problem Glenville home but said it could take up to six months to get the grant approved.
Meanwhile, Glenville residents living near the problem house, like a man who lives across the street who didn’t want to be identified, believe they shouldn’t be victims of what they call bureaucratic delays.
“I bet their house don’t look like this. City Hall doesn’t look like this,” the resident said. “It only happens in certain neighborhoods. I don’t mean any disrespect to anybody that stays in Shaker or Richmond Heights, more power to you, glad you’re out there, wish I was out there. But they don’t have to go through this.”