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Taft citizen volunteers help clean up abandoned properties

Posted at 5:46 PM, Jun 18, 2024

TAFT, TX — On Industrial Avenue in Taft, three abandoned properties are getting the attention no neighbor wants. Because no one maintains the property sometimes it ends up looking bad. 

Overgrown grass, weeds, hanging tree limbs, and rotting wood are what's left of what used to be someone’s home.

“It was all along the fence line and all in the back. Just completely covered up. That house is a good representation of what this one was,” Taft Code Enforcement, Jerry Martin said.

Martin said there are about 30 to 40 homes in the city that have been abandoned and have no one to maintain the property.

Officials tell KRIS 6 News they can't tear anything down without an agreement with the homeowner. 

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"If they don't do the paperwork to leave it somebody, it falls into legal limbo, and I deal with several houses like that, where there are living relatives, but they live far away,” Martin said.

In this legal limbo, taxpayer money is used to pay public works to clean up all these properties. Martin said that money could be put towards something more critical.

Knowing this, several citizens have volunteered to maintain the properties as a way to keep the neighborhoods looking good.

"All the volunteers I've dealt with are residents, and they love this little town, or maybe they knew the person who lived in the house, or they don't want the eye sore next to them,” Martin said. 

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Arturo is one of 7 volunteers getting to work.

"I have to cut trees, mow grass, and pick up stuff,” Arturo said. 

No one lives in the house next to him and that's created a long list of problems.

“There were a lot of rats and mice. I thought, I have the time to do the work,” Arturo said. 

With the city's help, Arturo, like many of the other volunteers, will continue maintaining the abandoned property for his benefit and the rest of the neighborhood. 

Jerry Martin tells me the city is planning to tear down 3 to 4 homes at the end of June.

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