Here's how you can help combat vacant homes being used as sex dens by the homeless
SAN ANTONIO - If there's an abandoned home in your neighborhood, you hold the power to do something about it.
Vacant homes in Prospect Hill are being used by homeless as sex dens.
Now, San Antonio's Code Enforcement Department says neighbors can start the process to address the problem.
"There's been an instance where I've seen someone passed out on their porch completely naked," said community activist Devin Walker.
Problems with lewd, public sex acts among the homeless have some west side neighbors looking for solutions.
"It's usually at homes that are vacant, for sale, or visibly distressed, unlivable properties," Walker explained.
Prospect Hill in District 5 has a lot of them. Fox San Antonio saw three vacant homes on a single block along West Martin Street.
Devin Walker has been pushing to do something about them.
"Ultimately, I would like to see all the homes that have been abandoned or overrun with homeless to either be condemned, demolished, or repaired and put back into use," Walker said.
"Every single day we have conversations about this issue,” said Shirley Gonzales.
Councilwoman Shirley Gonzales says the first step in addressing vacant homes that look unsafe, unsecured or have high grass is to report the problem by dialing 311. Once reported, the property owner could face Code Enforcement fines or court notices. If no action is taken by the owner to correct the code violation, the city's Building Standards Board could ultimately recommend demolition.
"There are neighborhood leaders neighborhood watches that are working actively with absentee landlords getting them aware of the problem, getting them the opportunity to take action," Walker said.
Last year, 88 abandoned homes were demolished in San Antonio. Currently, the city has 29 cases with pending demolition orders.
Councilwoman Gonzales is working on a plan to help property owners make repairs, to bring older homes up to current code in order to have them rented or sold.
"Having a program that encourages people to invest in their private property will ultimately be how we turn this thing around," Gonzales said.
Councilwoman Gonzales plans to formally announce the District 5 Housing Fair Saturday, April 21 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. 2300 W. Commerce.