Maintenance of foreclosed homes problematic

Photo by Rebecca Rebholz/

The problem of foreclosed homes has discouraged city officials and is expected to become more costly in the coming months.

On Nov. 21, the Common Council’s Finance and Personnel Committee approved a plan that would allow $400,000 of the city’s contingency fund to be used for the upkeep of foreclosed homes.

The Department of City Development has already committed $1 million to the upkeep of these homes and plans to spend that amount next year.

With $1 million already budgeted for existing foreclosed homes, the city may have to use more, since the numbers of these properties are climbing.

Jeff Fleming, a spokesman for the Department of City Development, said the city is able to predict the number of homes it will take over in the coming years because it takes several years of the non-payment of taxes before the city takes over ownership.

Fleming said the city predicts taking on hundreds more homes in the coming years.

The city actively tries to sell these homes but sometimes has to demolish the homes that are not good investments due to property damage.

In some instances, the city takes over the ownership of homes while there are still tenants on the property, Fleming said.

If the rent is fair based on market rates, the city continues to collect the existing rent. However, this money does not come close to covering maintenance costs of the city’s properties, Fleming said.