Photo: KSN News
Blight homes have been an issue in Wichita and around Kansas for years, but two bills going through the state legislature could bring hope to residents frustrated with the eyesores.
Bill 2314 and Bill 2238 are being looked at by state lawmakers and could change the consequences for owners of abandoned houses or nuisance properties.
"I really wish they’d do something with it," said Stephanie Reed, Oaklawn resident.
The properties aren’t only unattractive, but they can have safety, health and financial impact on a neighborhood.
Several residents tell KSN that their home’s property value has gone down because of blight homes.
Under Kansas law, as long as a property tax payment is made once every two years, the property still belongs to the owner, whether it is abandoned or not.
Bill 2314 would change that.
It’s something State Representative Ron Howard has been focusing on for decades.
"They will be handed a writ to appear in a municipality and talk the issue or they will be summoned to that area to talk about their abandoned property," said Rep. Howard.
Residents in Hilltop and Oaklawn said they like the idea.
"I think it would be really great," said James Gray, Hilltop resident. "You’d get rid of squatters and the drug users that come throughand like to hideout and live there and go through the neighborhood and steal what they can to get their drugs."
"Take pride of where we live," said Reed. "I don’t want to live in a neighborhood that’s all run down and I don’t think anybody else does, either."
Then, there’s Bill 2238, which focuses on blight homes just in Sedgwick County.
The bill would force owners to choose whether to allow the city to rehabilitate their property or remove it.
"What the bill does it it shuts those cycles down after a certain point," said Howard. "Now, it’s time for action. Let’s get these houses back up to code, let’s get the value of these homes back up, let’s get our neighborhoods looking good."
Both bills have been referred back to Appropriations and legislatures will take another look at them on Wednesday (Mar. 6) in Topeka.
To read Bill 2314 in its entirety, click here.
To read Bill 2238 in its entirety, click here.