‘Looks like the city dump’: West End Manor neighbors frustrated over blight

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This is a CBS 42 Your Voice Your Station report.

Christmas Day
December 25 2021 12:00 am

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WIAT) — West End Manor is not the picturesque Birmingham neighborhood you’d find on Google images.

Take a drive down Northland Avenue Southwest and you’ll find piles of trash, overgrown empty lots and nearly a dozen abandoned homes just on a single block. CBS 42 spoke with residents who say they’re tired of living like this.

“This causes rats. This causes us to live like we’re animals,” said Larry Luckey, who’s lived in the neighborhood for 20 years. “We’re infected by rats and roaches and opossum.”

Luckey and his neighbor, Kent Porterfield, take pride in keeping their homes and yards clean. They say the neighborhood looks rough now, but it wasn’t always like this.

“It was really, really nice. It was thriving,” Porterfield said. “But now it’s just down to the bare bone.”

Porterfield has lived in the same house for five decades. It was passed down to him from his mom and holds fond childhood memories. Now, if he wants to sit on his front porch, his view isn’t quite the same as it was 50 years ago.

“Some of the houses, the weeds in the summertime, for instance two or three months from now, the weeds will be as high as the roofline,” he shared.

Luckey and his neighbors say they’ve called 311—the city’s help line—but their questions are often left unanswered.

“Who’s gonna help us? We need help,” he said.

CBS 42 sat down with District Seven City Councilor Wardine Alexander, who said she’s working on it.

“There are multiple issues that affect this [such as] illegal dumping. I think some of this is also estate planning, how we plan for the succession of our property when we’re no longer there,” Alexander said. “People have walked away and left those homes abandoned or vacant.”

According to Alexander, more than 150 homes in District 7 were condemned last year.

“The entire city is overwhelmed,” she said. “Especially the western section.”

Alexander said she understands residents’ concerns, but the process to take down blighted properties doesn’t happen overnight—and it isn’t cheap. She said it can cost anywhere from $1,000 to $3,000 to knock down blighted properties, not including yard maintenance for empty lots.

Alexander said she hopes to secure more funding in the future for District 7 to help better maintain those empty lots where homes were knocked down. In the meantime, she encourages local residents to report code violations to 311 and follow up with her office.

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