PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Nuisance homes are a continuing problem in the Portland metro area, but Clackamas County has a program they say is working to fix it.
The Neighborhood Livability Project is a relatively new initiative for dealing with problem houses. It was started by several Clackamas County Sheriff’s Deputies, who were getting fed up with chasing off squatters only to have them return time and again.
“The minute I leave, it comes back,” Deputy Mark Nikolai said. “It’s like pushing water. Soon as you stop pushing, it’s gonna come right back.”
A house on SE Risley Ave. in Milwaukie was once labeled “the worst house in Clackamas County.” Since 2013, deputies have responded to complaints there almost 250 times.
That house is one of the properties that this project has turned around.
Permanently cleaning up a house like this can normally take a year or 2, but the deputies behind the project were able to streamline the process down to just weeks. With the combined effort of law enforcement, city council and the district attorney’s office the project cost less and had fewer negative impacts.
Arrests were made with help from the DA’s office, which filed a rarely used public and chronic nuisance complaint against the house.
Neighbors have seen firsthand how the project is helping speed up the foreclosure process.
“[It’s] good to have good cops around, you know,” neighbor Jeff Sawyer said. “It’s nice to get it cleaned up and get our neighborhood back a little bit.”
“That’s the whole purpose of this it’s ‘hey let’s attack these homes before they get out of hand or if they are out of hand, let’s make it happen,'” Nikolai said.” And our success rate has been fantastic.”