LAS CRUCES, N.M. — According to the City Codes Enforcement Department, there are more than 200 homes and buildings in Las Cruces that are abandoned.
After hearing from the residents at city council meetings, city officials recognize these buildings are a nuisance and are taking steps to address it.
It called the city’s neighborhood action team.
City leaders are working with several city departments such as the City Codes Enforcement Department.
Together, the task force works to find vacant and abandoned properties.
From there, they do research to find the the owners.
Chief Codes Enforcement Officer James Chavez said, once they are tracked down, the city sends out a letter giving property owners 10 days to respond before issuing a citation.
“We’ll go in and assess the home, see what the status is of it and if it’s unsecured we’ll look at the public safety aspect of it,” Chavez said.
If the owner fails to respond to the citation, the city then goes in to secure the home so it’s no longer a danger to the community.
If the homeowner fails to appear in court, the city can put a lien on the property and decide whether to restore it or tear it down.
Pete Avalos lives right next door to an abandoned home.
He said people started living inside the home, but just last month the home caught on fire.
Avalos added that the city went in and boarded up the windows up the windows to secure the home and although it’s an eye sore, he’s just glad the city took action.
“Oh, yeah, we though we were gong to catch on fire, too, because it is so close,” Avalos said.
But some homes are given a second chance, like the home built more than 130 years ago, and on which Robert Cruise is now working.
Cruise is an investor and has a passion for restoring historic homes and updating the inside with modern comforts while using all-original material to keep its history alive.
"This particular property had been abandoned for a number of years and... basically could have been condemned. But our goal is to restore the Mesquite area, one building at a time,” Cruise said.
Cruise has restored several homes in the Alameda area and is working with the city to preserve more in the future.
"It is getting a lot of attention from some great people on the city council that are really taking notice that this is a treasure area. This is Las Cruces; this was the original township where it all started so lets preserve it,” Cruise said.
The city of Las Cruces will be hosting public meetings where residents can voice their opinions on what the city should do with some of the abandoned homes.
For more information on public meetings visit http://www.las-cruces.org/departments/administration/nat