HAMMOND. – Hammond officials are cracking down on efforts to rid the city of dilapidated properties, demolishing more than 100 a year in the last four years.
Most of the properties on the citys demolition list are vacant homes.
Chief of Inspections James Callahan told the Times in Munster that about 90 percent are used as rental properties.
The demolitions cost $8,000 to $12,000 a structure and are funded with money received from the Horseshoe Casino.
Callahan said one of the first houses demolished was one that had been boarded up for years.
I used to think Gosh, if I lived next door to that and every holiday I had people coming over I would be upset, Callahan said. That was the first one I think we knocked down under (the building department), and people were thrilled to death.
In my opinion, the city has never looked as good as it does now.
The city began its push in 2008 after officials saw the success South Bend had with its program, city attorney Kris Kantar said.
Properties usually end up on demolition lists after complaints from neighbors.
Owners are given an opportunity to repair the structure to avoid demolition, but most of the time, no one shows up to claim the property at a hearing to determine its fate.
Banks get notice; they dont show up because theyre not about to put a penny into repairing it, Kantar said. They dont cut the grass. So theyre not going to pay to have a roof fixed.
The demolitions to date include a liquor store that had attracted troublemakers and brought an ugly element to its neighborhood, said George Huskisson, who owns a fencing company across the street.
Problems have declined since the store was razed, he said.
Its really made a nice improvement to our intersection here, he said.