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Tue., Feb. 18, 2014

Vacant homes a solution?

I would like to congratulate The Spokesman-Review on the well-written Feb. 9 article on homelessness. The article did a good job of covering the challenges faced by the homeless and the fine work of the local organizations working to help the homeless.

That same night “60 Minutes” on CBS did a fine segment on the same problem on a national level. However, there is another related situation that has been on my mind for some time: the vacant house situation.

There are a lot of vacant houses. I read recently that there are more than 68,000 foreclosed houses in the United States, most of them vacant, and most vacant house are targets for copper thieves and vandals.

It’s not uncommon to read or hear about a vacant house being stripped of its copper wiring and plumbing. So my question is: Why don’t we put well screened homeless families into these vacant homes as “caretakers” to look after the property, shovel the sidewalks in the winter and mow the lawn in summer?

Many of these vacant homes are foreclosures that will be vacant for quite some time until the real estate market comes back. I understand that there are concerns on the part of these property owners, but there are ways to address those concerns if we just have a desire to do so.

I encourage all of our fine local organizations to seriously consider looking into this source of homes for the homeless. Spokane could become a leader in this endeavor.

Larry Seemann

Spokane Valley

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