Louisville Metro Councilwoman Attica Woodson Scott says the vacant property cleanup campaign was a success, but it isn’t a solution to the problem.
In addition to being eyesores, vacant properties can bring down property values and blight neighborhoods. Earlier this month, Scott launched the three-day “Cleanup for Christmas” campaign. She used $5,000 of her discretionary funds to pay public works employees to clean up about 30 abandoned properties in west and southwest Louisville.
Scott says constituents are happy with the cleanup, but real change will come when the city can move faster to seize and rehabilitate abandoned houses.
“What I’m doing now is actually meeting with every single department I can think of in the city to jus task the questions: What are we doing about this vacant and abandoned property issue? How can we have a heavier hand on these banks and slum landlords?” she says.
Among the departments and agencies Scott is talking to are” Public Works; Inspections, Permits and Licenses; the Metropolitan Housing Coalition; and the health department.
“Quite frankly, I believe this is a public health issue when I have constituents saying to me ‘I now have mice in my home that I didn’t have before,'” says Scott. “I feel like with all these entities working together, we can find solutions to this issue.”
Many abandoned properties are owned by banks or landlords who live out of town. Scott says the city needs more authority to take over vacant lands and rehabilitate them. She’s also seeking to recoup the costs of her district cleanup from absentee property owners.