State legislator hopes proposed bill will help with vacant home - KCTV5

State legislator hopes proposed bill will help with vacant home problems

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Vacant homes aren't just an eyesore in one Kansas City neighborhood - they've become the source of many problems.

But one state legislator wants to change the current law to help cities deal with the growing problem.

It isn't hard to find one abandoned house after another in the Kansas City, KS, neighborhood near 52nd Street and Forest Avenue.

"This house is disgusting - there's raccoons, snakes," Erica Bedford said.

Bedford and her family have been frustrated for years living next door to a vacant house that she said attracts nothing but trouble.

"We have people inside the house we have to run off and stolen cars abandoned here. Young kids hiding stolen stuff in the house," she said.

Bedford said what's really frustrating is there's nothing she can do about it because the property owner has been paying their property taxes on time. That's why Rep. Stan Frownfelter with the 37th Kansas House District wants to change the law.

"It's everywhere. From severe ones like this one you are getting rats, squatters, drug dealers. It's not fair to the community and young people around here," he said.

Frownfelter grew up in the Turner neighborhood in Kansas City, KS, and said he hates to see so many homes crumbling. He is proposing a new bill that says, even if the taxes are paid, if the property is vacant for 180 days and it's having a dangerous and blighting influence in the area, then a nonprofit will be able to petition a municipal judge for temporary deed of the property to rehab the house for families.

"We don't want this to be a land-grab for municipalities, whether small or large. But we want to bring these people to the table faster so we don't have to deal with this in our communities," he said.

He said if the property owner wants to regain control of the house, they will have to pay back the nonprofit for the improvements. Bedford supports the new idea because the problem is impacting how she makes a living.

"I'm opening up a day care. How am I going to get parents to bring kids to play here when this is what sits next door?" she asked.

Frownfelter plans to introduce his bill at the Statehouse Tuesday. He said it has a long journey.

Click here to read a copy of his bill.

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