The city of Tampa kicked off a 30-day sweep Sunday to try to crack down on slumlords who have allowed their properties to fall into disrepair and have become a blight on the community.
Mayor Bob Buckhorn joined Tampa's Neighborhood Enhancement Division to launch the campaign.
"We're not asking for permission. We're going to go in and we're going to kick some butt and we're going to take some names," Buckhorn said. "Those slum landlords that have allowed their properties to fall into disrepair, we're going to deal with them. We're going to deal with them quickly. We're going to deal with them harshly and we're going to get them to clean up these properties."
Earlier this month the city's then-Port Authority Chairman, William A. "Hoe" Brown, came under fire for illegally running rental properties that were rundown and uninhabitable; he later resigned.
The city has assigned six code enforcement officers to focus full time on cleaning up neighborhoods. Susan Wenrick, District Supervisor for the Neighborhood Enhancement Division, said officers will be checking out at least 6,000 homes.
"It's all about quality of life, health, safety and welfare. You need to get on it, get in there, get it fixed, get it remedied, and let people know that you do care," she said.
Wenrick said the owners of the homes vary; some live locally, others are out-of-state. Several of the homes are in foreclosure and under the control of a bank.
Officials said, if the property is rundown and violating city regulations, the owners could face penalties regardless of who they are.
"That's a good deal. We have a lot of people trying to slum in these houses that have been abandoned," said Jose Perez, who lives across the street from a few homes in Old Seminole Heights considered blights by the city. "You got people who we don't know staying in there and they don't have no jobs or nothing. They just sleep in these places. All they do is bring more crime to the neighborhood."
Owners could face a $75 fine for each violation. He or she would also have to pay back the city should it have to make repairs on its own.
FOX 13 / WTVT-TV
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