PHILADELPHIA (WTXF) - Philadelphia's population has stabilized over the last decade or so but during the past half-century nearly 500,000 residents have left the city. And what did they leave behind? Vacant homes that make life miserable for people in neighborhoods like the one FOX 29's Bruce Gordon visited Tuesday.
The 1600 block of North 56th street was a great place to live when Rose Rollins moved here back in 1999.
"Very nice," said Rollins. "Really nice. See, it was mostly homeowners then."
Over time, some people moved away and others died. Vacant properties now dot the landscape.
And so, when a sign appeared on the front of the long-empty 1685: "Work in progress."
"Oh, I was very thrilled," said Rollins, "Very happy to know that something was getting done!"
It was a mirage. Rehab work began and ended, started and stopped. Then, the renovation seemed to stall completely.
"Nothing has been done at all this year. Nothing," Rollins said.
In the meantime, the weeds grew and the trash piled up. Rollins says squatters come and go from the home and critters run amok.
The owner, according to city records, is a Darren Carr. Gordon tracked down his phone number and called it.
The man answering the phone told Gordon he had the wrong number but claimed he'd be able to relay his questions to Mr. Carr.
1685 North 56th has been cited by Philadelphia's department of Licenses and Inspections 16 times over the past seven years, mostly for the nasty conditions outside.
Gordon saw five different city violation notices jammed in the door or tossed on the porch--one dating back to August. All seemingly ignored,which is how these neighbors feel about a property desperately in need of a cleanup.
"We don't have the money to pay nobody to do it. That's the sad part," said Rollins with a sigh. "We just have to live like this. But it's a shame to live this way, but this is the way we live...and pay taxes."
What do you know?
Shortly after Gordon's 5 p.m,. story ran on FOX 29, workers showed up on orders from Mr. Carr to begin removing the weeds from in front of the house. One of those workers claimed he had done some of the interior renovations, but stopped when he did not get paid.
Gordon also reached out to Philadelphia's CLIP, Tuesday, which is the Community Life Improvement Program.
They have promised to inspect the exterior of 1685 and cite the owner for any mess still there. If it's not up to par, they will do the work and send him a bill. If he ignores the bill, they'll place a lien on the property.