City Targeting Problem Properties

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(Memphis) On the section of south 4th Street on Gaston near McLemore in south Memphis nearly every house is boarded up.

Two homes were set on fire just this week.

Neighbors want them all torn down.

The city says it`s not so easy.

Oznie Horne is director of the neighborhood improvement division of public works, "You can't find the owners. It's as simple as that . you can't find the owners."

Horne says he's just as frustrated as anyone about the condition of houses like these in south Memphis and the danger they present to the public, "It frightens us. I get the calls in the middle of the night when there are fires."

The city says it takes at least six months to condemn and demolish problem properties when they know who the property owner is, the problem is many of those property owners don't want to be found.

"You cant find the owners. It's that simple, you can't find the owners. It's extremely difficult to get court approval."

The city says a proposed vacant property registry ordinance would require every property owner to register and let the city know who is responsible.

The ordinance goes before the city council later this month

It would also require lenders to do the same.

"We dontt have to run around and find them if there is a mortgage on the property."