Cleveland wages war against blight, pledges to demolish 1,000 homes

Published: Oct. 23, 2018 at 7:43 PM EDT
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Cleveland, OH (WOIO) - All over the city of Cleveland, there are thousands of vacant homes.

Not only are they eyesores, but many people believe they’re places that attract crime.

“It’s a safety risk. They go into the houses, they smoke crack-cocaine, they’re in the houses doing drugs, they’re in the houses doing a lot of illegal activities," said Ward 9 Councilman, Kevin Conwell.

Conwell says he’s been working to tear these homes down for years, especially after what happened to 14-year-old Alianna DeFreeze.

“I think about her as I’m riding the neighborhood and with me, that’s what drives me to ride my neighborhood," said Conwell.

In 2017, Alianna was kidnapped, raped and tortured before being murdered by Christopher Whittaker in an abandoned home on Fuller Avenue. Whitaker was sentenced to death earlier this year.

In that time, Conwell and others have been pushing to tear down these vacant homes that are spread out all over the city.

Earlier this month, the city committed an additional $5 million to Safe Routes Demolition Program, boosting the total budget to $10 million.

Clevelabd spokesman Dan Williams said it costs about $10,000 to demolish a structure.

He also said, to date, the city has demolished 781 vacant structures with dozens more on contract to be razed.

The extra money will allow the city to demolish about 500 more vacant homes.

Councilman Conwell admits, the city needs to do a better a job and stay the course.

“Especially around the schools where our children go to and from school, that needs to be priority one," said Conwell.

The city spokesman says it is on track to demolish nearly 1,000 homes with Safe Routes $10 million dollars budget.

Call 216-664-4365 to report a vacant home in your neighborhood.

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