Neighbors worried about vacant home where body was found

Two vacant homes on block raise safety concerns

ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) – A man was found dead lying in the backyard of an abandoned home Monday night. Neighbors hope that will be the last straw before the city takes action.

Neighbors near Coors and Bluewater in northwest Albuquerque told KRQE News 13 no one has lived in two homes on their block for at least seven years. However, that doesn’t mean people are staying out.

“They all come in at night,” said Salina Chavez. “It’s scary.”

For those that live near the two abandoned homes, the boards on the windows and the signs that state, “Unsafe to Occupy,” aren’t enough.

“I’m hoping that now that the worst has happened, that something will get done,” Chavez told KRQE News 13.

Chavez is referring to Monday night’s homicide callout. A neighbor walking by found a man dead, lying in the backyard of an abandoned property.

“It was just a matter of time,” said Chavez. “There’s a lot of neighbors that have called and made complaints.”

Chavez said she and others have called the city over seven years about the crime-ridden properties, to no avail.

“They tell us that there’s no way they can get in, but they’re obviously getting in,” Chavez said. In a home across the street, it’s clear from the windows that someone has been sleeping there.

KRQE News 13 spotted beer bottles, blankets, clothes and food inside the home.

“They’re not just homeless, they’re drunks, they’re drug addicts,” Chavez explained. She said she’s had to call police during a break-in outside, or an encounter with a drunk man in her yard.

“We deal with these properties all across the city,” said Bennon Williams, with the City of Albuquerque Planning Department.

Williams said the city doesn’t own the two problem homes. “Essentially our involvement is to ensure that the structure remains vacant and secure,” Williams explained.

He said in order to catch someone on the property illegally, or to condemn the homes would require more calls to 311 or police from the neighborhood.

“Generally speaking there has to be a demonstration that there’s a significant amount of city resources,” said Williams.

“When it gets to the point that all of those factors are significant, then we have to look at it because it’s expensive to knock down a house,” Williams added.

Chavez said she’s been told by the city if the structure is “secure” and the property is up to code, there’s not much else the city can do. She said city workers come by about once a month to clear out weeds.

Neighbors said the two houses have been abandoned for so many years, they’ve had to make their own modifications, such as adding high fences of their own just to keep people out.

“What scares me is that if something happens to my family honestly,” said 14-year-old Christian Gonzales. He and his 8-year-old brother live next door to the home where the body was found Monday.

Gonzales and his family said they see people come and go from the corner property all the time.

KRQE News 13 found liquor bottles, beer boxes, clothes and trash in the same place the body was found.

“It’s a magnet for crime, we don’t want that around here,” Gonzales told KRQE News 13.

According to city records, private owners are listed for both homes.

For now, the city said the best thing for neighbors to do is to keep calling 311 or police if they see something illegal.

Albuquerque Police have not yet identified the man from Monday’s homicide call, or determined how he died. OMI is investigating.

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