Windows are broken on the first and second floors. The back doors are wide open. Inside the home, wiring and metals have been stripped out by vandals. The carpeting is soiled and ripped. Empty liquor bottles and little plastic baggies that once held drugs litter the floor.
This scene inside a house in the 4900 block of W. Van Buren does not capture the horror for residents who live near this eyesore, and it’s what students from May Elementary School see every day as they make their way to and from school.
As part of a national day of action aimed at blocking evictions, resisting foreclosures and reclaiming abandoned and empty properties, West Side residents will clean up and secure the building at 4943 W. Van Buren Ave. starting at 11 a.m. Dec. 6.
“Our communities face a multifaceted crisis of unprecedented dimension: a spiraling number of foreclosures and abandoned houses has created a level of anger, despair, and restlessness in our people. They are angry that our children make the dangerous trek through these eyesores every day, and nothing is done about them,” Rev. Sirchester Jackson, pastor of Mandell Methodist Church, said in a statement announcing Tuesday’s clean-up.
The South Austin Coalition proposes aggressive action to rebuild the fabric of our community. The group said it’s planning a series of projects to take over bank-owned foreclosed houses, hire the chronically unemployed and ex-offenders to rehab those homes, and move families into the homes while having banks pays the costs.
“Our residents deserve a safe, prosperous neighborhood in which to raise their families. We demand that the big banks that caused the economic crisis turn over these foreclosed homes to community groups and churches to be rehabbed,” the coalition said in a statement.