Pest-Infested House Given Second Life

What once served as a rodent motel is on its way to becoming a potential family home. Monday marked the beginning of renovations on a house that has been a nesting spot for various pests on the 2100 block of Wakeling St.

“[The neighbors] have been afraid to let kids play outside because they might be bit or scratched by a diseased animal living in that place,” says Kanisha Barnes, who has lived in the neighborhood for 16 years.

The house, which has been vacant for approximately 10 years, served as a hostel for feral cats, wild birds, and human squatters. Regardless of the condition, the property, listed as being owned by the Philadelphia Housing Development Corporation (PHDC), has been on the market for sale “as-is” at $19,879.

Neighbors filed multiple complaints with various City agencies to get the property repaired. When nothing was done, they even attempted to purchase the house so they could fix the problems themselves.

“At one point we cleaned the front of the house because it became a bathroom for cats,” Barnes says. “We couldn’t go outside sometimes because of the smell of feces and urine.”

None of their efforts were successful until June 20, when a PHDC inspector finally came to evaluate the property. Now PHDC has committed to cleaning and repairing the property within 30 days.

Those renovations began Monday at 10 am according to Barnes. So far, the crews have cleaned up most of the yard and begun work on the inside of the house.

“The property has been on the schedule for this week,” says Office of Housing and Community Development Public Relations Specialist Jamila Davis, whose office also represents PHDC. “[Crews] will complete the various renovations needed.”

Neighbors are excited and grateful that PHDC is fixing the house.

“It’s a big relief to know they are doing something to repair the place,” says Barnes. “We’ve waited for this for so long.”

Though the yard is the only visible part of the property that is near finished, Barnes says it's an important step to making the house safe to be around again. She also finally feels more comfortable allowing her niece outside.

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