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#4544: Empty houses overrun with crime... (fwd)


Published Thursday, July 6, 2000, in the Miami Herald 
 Empty houses overrun with crime____ Residents urge speedy action
 BY HANS MARDY  Herald Writer 

 Jean Francois' small apartment is the only occupied dwelling on the
block of Northeast 63rd Street and First Place. On his street, vacant
and abandoned houses sit open and run down. They are magnets for the
worst kind of neighborhood blight: prostitution, crime, decay.


 Francois and other Little Haiti residents are urging the city of Miami
to demolish the houses on his block and eight to 10 others in the area
between Northeast 63rd and 64th streets, and from First Place to First
Court. ``We have about 10 vacant homes on this block,'' said Francois,
who has lived in the area for several years. ``Those homes are real
eyesores for the community.'' Residents say prostitutes who have been
chased from Biscayne Boulevard have invaded the neighborhood, attracted
by the neglected vacant homes. ``Some of my tenants have left because of
those vacant homes,'' said Paulisca Joseph, 43, who owns several
apartments in the area.  According to Roger Biamby, administrator at
Little Haiti Neighborhood Enhancement Team, all the homes are currently
on the city's demolition list. ``Last year we demolished about 20 homes
in the Little Haiti area,'' said Biamby. ``The process takes time and
money.'' He said the demolition process can take six months to three
years, and each demolition will costs the city about $3,000, depending
on the size of the house. The city also picks up the tab for cleaning up
debris on the lots, Biamby said. Some of the houses have citations
tacked to the door noting code violations.
 Property owners are absentee landlords who never show up for hearings
and eventually lose the plots. In the meantime, those who must live near
the homes say they're tired of those who use the houses to bring drugs
and prostitution into the low-income community. Joseph, who has been in
Miami for 12 years, said when he bought the properties, the neighborhood
was safe and clean. ``It's a war against prostitution, rape and drugs.
I'm tired of those people who have taken over the neighborhood,'' Joseph
said. ``I can't afford living here with my children,'' said Pierre Jean,
34, a tenant and father of two who has lived in the neighborhood for
about four years. ``I felt ashamed of myself for living here, where I
can't have visitors. I can't bring anybody home. I cannot even ask a
friend to drop me home. All of my friends are scared of
 this area.'' Jean is not the only one who feels bad about how the
neighborhood looks. One block from his home, Pierresina Orelus said she,
too, is frustrated. ``I can't stand these houses,'' said Orelus, 66, who
takes care of her three grandsons at home. ``It's not healthy to breath
this air. I'm asking city of Miami officials to demolish those houses.'
 Biamby said residents in the area should be alert and get involved to
save the neighborhood. He urges them to participate in the process by
becoming the eyes and ears of the police. ``Residents should not allow
other people to come to use their neighborhood for drugs, crime and
prostitution. All they have to do is pick up a phone and call the
 NET office,'' Biamby said.

 To reach the NET office, call 305-795-2337.