INDIANAPOLIS — "I have to go to bed worried about if my house is going to catch on fire. I have to go to work not knowing if my house is going to be standing still when I come home," Kristin Calvert said.
There are serious concerns for people who live in Indy's Christian Park neighborhood, and it all centers around an empty house.
Residents say the problems are getting out of hand.
Neighbors say people experiencing homelessness have moved into a vacant home in the neighborhood and have destroyed it.
They have left behind trash, feces and have even set fires.
After asking for help from the city, IMPD and other agencies, neighbors called WRTV.
The home may be boarded up, but that's not stopping deplorable conditions on the property.
Neighbors say between the odor, rodents and trash, they have reached their breaking point and are begging for help.
“I walk up on the porch, and the odor is so bad, it hits you in the face. And it's like, ‘oh my God, what is that,’” Tim Hagger said. "I watch rats and mice run up and down the driveway from my porch.”
The vacant property on Fletcher Avenue has become a nightmare, according to residents like Calvert and Hagger.
"We screw our gate closed just to make sure no one comes back to our yard," Calvert said. "There was a privacy fence that was brand new, and they tore it down, and I guess when they decided they wanted privacy, they went and grabbed some wood junk and made their own.”
For more than a year, people who are experiencing homelessness have called the house their home.
"The police come out to remove him and make sure he leaves the property, but he's right back," Calvert said. “They’ve come out twice to clean it up. As soon as they leave, he’s right back with more junk from before.”
Calvert said she reached her breaking point when someone started a fire in the alley that spread to her garage.
"We've called the police numerous times. We've called the city, the health department and the mayor's action line. I've pretty much called everywhere I’ve been told to call," Calvert said.
"We've reached rock bottom really. It's time that somebody did something. That's you guys being called by Kristin," Hagger said.
WRTV reached out to the city about this property.
Kurt Christian, Chief Communications Officer for the City of Indianapolis Department of Business & Neighborhood Services/Animal Care Services, issued the following statement:
The Department of Business and Neighborhood Services has inspected the property at 3833 Fletcher Avenue several times over the past few years and has issued five vacant board orders since November. The most recent board order was issued last Friday. Due to repeated issues, we’re using different materials this time with additional bracing and larger bolts secured at shorter distances to make the boards harder to remove. Additionally, there is an open repair order on the property for missing gutter boards/gutters, flaking paint around the windows and doors, and failing to maintain a secure structure.
"Our hands are somewhat tied too, and it's frustrating to our officers as well," IMPD Officer William Young said.
IMPD said they are familiar with this property, and it is a problem they see far too often. However, it's not an easy fix.
"We have to have a victim, and some sometimes, it's extremely difficult for officers to prosecute or make an arrest without the property owner. Sometimes some of those properties may be in foreclosure or may be owned by a particular bank, and it's hard to figure out which banks that may be," Young said.
IMPD said although residents may be frustrated about this, they should keep reporting the issues.
"Think about starting a crime watch. Think about reaching out to the district to see if our community relations officers can come out and teach crime watch. Continue to report and we'll continue to be as responsive as we can," Young said.
WRTV's Amber Grigley asked Calvert if she felt violated.
"Absolutely. Absolutely. And it doesn't seem like that matters. They have rights. I don't have rights, I guess. That's how I feel, and that's the way it looks like to me. They're more concerned with their rights than mine," Calvert said.
The city told WRTV:
"If DBNS has to board the property again, fees will be assessed and billed to the property owner. If those fees aren’t paid within 30 days, they will be sent to the treasurer as a lien against the property.
Neighbors should continue to call the Mayor’s Action Center at 317-327-4622 or go to our website if they see the boards have been removed so that we can replace them.
Neighbors concerned about illegal activity on the property should contact IMPD."