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Neighbors say that some Newton Booth apartments need improvement

For the most part, the Newton Booth neighborhood is an average, safe residential neighborhood. Located between 24th and 29th Streets, and R and W Streets, it includes historic homes and several inexpensive apartment complexes. Some of those complexes, however, have become debilitated and covered in graffiti, turning some areas of an otherwise clean neighborhood into an eyesore.

One such building, at the corner of 27th and U streets, is one of several apartment complexes in the area that have drawn the attention of the local neighborhood association. Police were called in mid-September to remove squatters who had settled in the apartment building, an eight-unit structure at 2031 27th Street.

“Some of the main problems we see are with a small number of apartment buildings that are poorly managed and run down,” said John Hagar, president of the Newton Booth Neighborhood Association. “Some cases it is a matter of them looking terrible and making certain blocks look terrible. Other cases it is that the buildings don’t meet building codes, which disturbs home values and creates unsafe conditions.”

The police first received a tip that there were squatters in the building on Sept. 7, when a neighbor reported seeing a suspicious person inside. However, when the police got another call on Sept. 10, it was confirmed that squatters were living in the building.

According to Hagar, he suspects that the building became run down after the owners stopped managing it and the residents stopped paying rent. Now that the squatters are gone, the building is sealed up and it is on the market for resale, Hagar said.

Newton Booth residents have raised complaints about a few other apartment buildings as well. Hagar did not specify which buildings they are focusing on because he said they hope to negotiate and work with the owners before naming them publicly.

Hagar mentioned a few of their concerns:

  • Squatters have moved into some of the buildings, which Hagar said creates a crime problem.
  • The buildings are located in areas with many families and neighbors have said that the unstable conditions could be a hazard for children’s safety.
  • Owners who rent out well-managed, nice apartments have trouble renting to people because of the close proximity of these run-down buildings.

The Newton Booth Neighborhood Association board members went around the neighborhood and selected the five worst buildings. One apartment owner agreed to fix the issues in their apartment building immediately after NBNA spoke to them.

For the other buildings, the NBNA is a planning on speaking to the Apartment Owners Association and sending out letters to try and give them a chance to respond and take action. If this is not effective, NBNA members said they will get the city involved. Hagar mentioned that they are planning on talking to city officials soon.

At the last NBNA meeting, resident Heather Scott said that getting code enforcement involved might be an effective way to solve the problem.

“We want to try and solve the problem in a low-key way first,” Hagar said.

NBNA members will decide what action to take after speaking with both the apartment owners and city officials.  

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