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Toledo city council wants to Fight the Blight, demolish abandoned homes

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TOLEDO, OH (Toledo News Now) -

City council members are pushing hard to clean up the mess throughout the city. They want to begin fixing up or tearing down the city's abandoned homes and cutting the grass. Some council members are looking to create a Blight Authority comprised of a diverse group of people from the city and neighborhoods to clean things up. Jack Ford says this was one of his campaign promises.

"There are some things that we can do with a little bit of activity that's not going to cost a lot of money. We just need to go ahead and do it," said Ford.

People living in the city want solutions, and they want it now. City officials say there could be up to 20,000 homes that need to be demolished.

"I care that the neighbors can come out and enjoy their house because we've taken care of the blight in the neighborhood," said Mike Craig.

Councilman Ford hopes the Blight Authority will become a reality over the next two weeks. He says many council members are already on board with this initiative.

Residents like Jami Kember hate the high grass on the vacant property on White Street. She worries drug dealers will hang out there. This is why Councilman Ford announced he will draw up legislation to create a Blight Authority to oversee more efficient inspections of problem properties, and implement creative solutions being developed in Detroit.

"The mayor has to respond. And so he will on this one. If not, I think it has the potential to tinge the rest of his term," said Ford.

The mayor's spokesman Lisa Ward responded saying,

"The mayor does not feel creating an additional enforcement authority will solve the problem. We should focus on getting nuisance properties handled more quickly through the courts. Toledo filed more than 500 affidavits in the past 12 months."

Terry Glazer heads United North, a community development organization. He sees positives in Ford's proposal but wants a more comprehensive solution for neighborhoods.

"If the Blight Authority has more power than the city would have, then perhaps it could be useful. But in my opinion, I think there have been proposals in the past that have been rejected and that could be even more effective," said Glazer.

Ford says he has support of at least three other city council members, including council president Paula Hicks Hudson.

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