CAMPBELL, Ohio (WKBN) – Paula Kindinis moved to Campbell from Greece more than 50 years ago.
She and her husband found a house in a great neighborhood. But today, she said she does not feel so good about living in the city.
“I’m getting depressed. Every time I pass a street, a house is down — like the house up the street,” she said.
Just a few feet from her home, the city has torn down another house because the property owner did not keep up with it.
“I feel like crying. It’s so depressing. You don’t see [anybody],” she said.
The demolitions are happening throughout the city of Campbell, since the city enforced its new housing enforcement code over the spring.
Campbell Law Director Brian Macala said the idea of the increased enforcement is to get the neighborhoods cleaned up.
“Somebody’s driving by, instead of seeing boarded-up houses and things of that nature, overgrown yards, we want to see them go by and say, ‘Hey, those houses look pretty good there,'” he said.
As officials work to enforce this amended housing code, they have been faced with challenges from property owners, however. Macala said some homeowners have not been as receptive to the new laws.
“As we were confronting him about the conditions, he said in a kind of demeaning voice that this is Campbell, not Canfield,” he said. “Well, you’re right, it’s not Canfield. It is Campbell, but that doesn’t change the circumstances.”
When property owners do not either fix up their property or have it torn down, they could face jail time, although it has not yet reached that point. Macala said, before the change, people going through foreclosure were not held accountable, and there were relaxed penalties if the issue went to court.
“Our goal is not to punish people. Our goal is to get them to fix up the property,” he said. “Having someone appear in our courtroom and simply be fined $100, $200, $500 doesn’t correct the situation.”
Kindinis said she wishes this was not an issue at all in her neighborhood.
“Pretty soon, they’re going to tear all the houses down and make it into a forest,” she said. “You know, all trees, because they don’t take care of it.”
The city is working to remove all of the abandoned homes as soon as possible, but it may take some time to deal with all of the problem properties.
“I wish we could take down every abandoned house, just like that,” Macala said. “Those millions don’t exist within our budget to be able to make that happen.”