Abandoned and foreclosed homes have become an eyesore in neighborhoods across the county. Gulfport is no exception, that's why city leaders are looking into creating a registry for foreclosed homes. During Tuesday night's regular council meeting Councilor Barbara Banno asked City Manager Jim O'Reilly to add the issue in a future workshop.
"I think it could really benefit the city to help keep track of the foreclosure houses," Banno said.
Banno said tracking the properties could help in the following ways; the city can help keep the properties clean, police can monitor the homes for squatters and keep neighborhoods safe.
Banno said one setback is the lag time from when a home is abandoned and actually listed as a foreclosed home.
"When they become bank owned, they get turned over to a property management. So, the property management group would have to register with the city.
If we can get to that point, we’re still in a better position than we are today,” Banno said.
Banno and Councilor Jennifer Salmon brought up the issue prior to Tuesday night's meeting, but Banno brought it up again because St. Petersburg is moving forward with creating a registry. They're holding a public hearing today.
According St. Petersburg city documents, the registry would require, "all mortgages, including lenders trustees, and service companies to register property that has been foreclosed upon or (is) the subject of a foreclosure actions or proceedings; and regulating the maintenance of property that has been foreclosed upon and are owned by the foreclosing entity."
Each register would be good for one year at a proposed cost of $125.
Gulfport City Manager Jim O'Reilly says he hasn't had a chance to look into the registry just yet. O'Reilly also did not have a number of abandoned and foreclosed homes in Gulfport, but did say that maintenance costs this past year increased by $20,000 for services related to abandoned homes. That includes services like boarding up homes and cutting grass.
"The cost has increased for abate code violations," O'Reilly said.
O'Reilly says we recieved a lot of rain and as a result grass growing on abandoned properties has grown even faster this year. Officials document the issue as a code violation and the fees are placed as a lien on the property.
"We don't recoup the costs immediately," O'Reilly said.
City council members will discuss the registry at a future workshop.