Neighbors Desperately Seeking Relief From Rodent-Filled, Vacant Home

A new set of neighbors moved in on the 2100 block of Wakeling St., and residents say their street has become a horrid, smelly nightmare.

"It smells like there’s dead animals in there," longtime resident Leslene Harris said.

"In the summer, you would think there were dead bodies in there from the smell. There’s cats, rats, possums, raccoons; it's like they moved in."

A vacant house on the block has essentially become a nesting place for all types of pests and rodents. Last week, birds could be seen flying in and out of nests built in gutters along the roof of the abandoned home, while mice scurried into the basement through two broken windows at the front of the property.

Neighbors say they've done everything from filing complaints with City agencies to trying to buy the house and fixing it themselves. All to no avail.

"You know the sad thing about it is, there was one point where we did have the money but they put us through so much, the money dwindled away and it was like forget it now," Harris said. "I don’t need an assessment to tell me that the property value they’re asking for is not what it is because I’m living here and I’m seeing the property conditions."

The Philadelphia Housing Development Corporation (PHDC) is listed as the owner of the vacant Wakeling St. home, which is currently listed for sale for $19,879.

"My biggest fear is any of these kids on the block being bit by one of these rodents," 16 year resident Kenisha Barnes said.

Harris' husband, Shawn Gayle said he worries about their five children getting bit by one of the animals too.

"I've got five kids, and with all of that stuff back there, you get mosquitoes, you get cats, I've seen dead birds. I worry about them just going in the back yard. It's a lot of stress because I think about it all the time."

The vacant house is one of more than 10,000 properties listed on the Philly Land Works website for 'as-is' sale by the City of Philadelphia, Philadelphia Redevelopment Authority (PRA) and PHDC.

Anyone interested in purchasing a listed property can start the process through a form on the Philly Land Works website. Potential buyers must demonstrate financial ability to not only buy the property, but to pay for the needed rehab work. Bidders must also state how they plan to use the property.

PHDC says out of 11 bids entered for the Wakeling St. property, only one met the qualifications to purchase, but that person hasn't turned in the necessary paperwork to complete the application process.

Harris and other residents on the block want PHDC to lower the price tag on the property or do something to protect them from their creepy, crawly neighbors, and soon.

Director of Philadelphia's Department of Licenses and Inspections Emergency Services Division Scott Mulderig said his department issued a violation for the property being vacant and open to trespass in 2013.

Windows and a door on the front of the property have since been boarded up, but residents say teenagers and passersby with idle time have been going in and out of the property through windows at the back of the house, which as of last week, were wide open for any one to access.

Mulderig said L&I would send an inspector out again this week to make sure the back windows are covered.

After receiving calls from NBC10, PHDC says it sent one of its own inspectors to the property on Friday. They've since committed to cleaning the inside of the house and making the necessary repairs to secure the back of the property within 30 days.

A purchase and rehab of the home, however, seems to be the only hope for a more permanent solution to the problem.

"If somebody buys it they should at least have it cleaned out and have new windows put in," she said. "Until they do that, I don't think the animals are going anywhere."

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