City Acquires 129 Clay Street in First Anti-Blight Foreclosure
(6/11/2012) The City of New Haven has acquired 129 Clay Street in the first successful foreclosure action under the City’s Anti-Blight Ordinance passed in 2009. The City will now seek to sell the property to a responsible owner following standard land dispositions procedures. The Livable City Initiative has already identified at least one neighbor interested in purchasing the home.
“The level of blight experienced at 129 Clay Street was unacceptable to the neighborhood and to the City. Foreclosure is not something the City takes lightly, but when an irresponsible owner refuses to maintain a property it has a damaging affect on the whole neighborhood. Fortunately, the City now has the ability to assure that this uninhabitable safety hazard and eyesore can be transferred to a responsible owner, and this property can once again become a safe and affordable home for a New Haven family,” said Mayor John DeStefano Jr.
The home at 129 Clay Street has been an eyesore since it became vacant in 2003. With the passage of the Anti-Blight Ordinance in 2009, the City gained the ability to fine nonresponsive property owners up to $100 a day. In addition, the City gained the right to perform necessary maintenance work, bill the property owner, and place a lien on the property. Prior to 2009, the City had been able to find owners for building code violations, but had limited remedies in cases of serious blight.
Anti-blight fines and maintenance fees for 129 Clay Street totaled $61,209 at the time of the foreclosure action. Among the necessary work performed by the City included removal of a dilapidated porch that posed serious safety hazards.
Until the City took title this week, the property had been owned by Stanley Hill of Guilford. He does not own any other properties in New Haven.
“It is always our hope that owners will choose to be responsible and elect to maintain or sell their properties. Foreclosure is an act of last resort, but it is a tool the City is willing to use in cases of extreme property neglect and blight. The City gave this owner every opportunity to remediate and maintain this property. When he could not, or chose not to, the City could not let the property persist as a community nuisance and hazard,” said Erik Johnson, Director of the Livable City Initiative.
Senate Majority Leader Martin Looney co-sponsored state legislation in 2009 that enabled the City’s Anti-Blight Ordinance. “What we have seen in the cancerous effect blight can have on a neighborhood,” he said. “This bill is a source of ammunition to be used in this fight.”
Former Fair Haven Alderman Joseph Rodriguez was one of eight aldermanic authors to submit the Anti-Blight Ordinance in 2009. At a press conference outside 129 Clay Street, Rodriguez said he received numerous complaints as alderman regarding loitering and squatters at the property. “Properties such as this act as magnets for crime. This is a quality of life concern,” he said. “It should not be tolerated in any neighborhood.”
There are three additional properties currently in the foreclosure process pursuant to the Anti-Blight Ordinance. All three are longstanding blighted and vacant properties. The addresses of those properties are 272 Davenport Avenue, 55 Dickerman Street, and 38 Wilson Street.
Please find attached the Anti-Blight Ordinance and corresponding letter signed by the eight aldermanic authors.
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