Harlingen tackles vacant, dilapidated property issues
HARLINGEN, TEXAS (KVEO NEWS CENTER 23) — Looking at Harlingen's deteriorated buildings isn't just an eyesore. Potential dangers include criminal activity and safety hazards in these vacant houses.
"One of the big concerns is that if children are playing in a neighborhood and they get into a house somehow, where the flooring isn't good or the ceiling is bad, is there could be an accident and could get hurt, possibly seriously," said City of Harlingen public information officer Dave Ralph.
"Things like this...little kids can come in and accidents can happen, and kids can fall and kids can break down and they can get really hurt really bad," said Harlingen resident Reyna Medina.
And that's why Harlingen has been teaming up with Operation Crackdown. It's an organization where the Texas National Guard is funded by federal money seized through fines and the sale of illegal properties.
Together, Operation Crackdown and the city have demolished over 200 buildings in the last few years.
If the owner of a property is unknown, it can take the City of Harlingen or Operation Crackdown anywhere from six months to a year to even begin the process of removing a dilapidated building like this one.
"If they don't know the owner, or we can't find the owner of a property, it takes longer to go through the actual court system to get the actual legal permission and documentation to get a property either torn down or improved to the point that it's inhabitable," said Ralph.
Residents are encouraged to call the Harlingen Code Enforcement at 956 216 5200 if they want to see an abandoned building improved upon or razed. They can also ask about Operation Crackdown and how they can get involved.