Neighbors protest Lents ‘Zombie’ house

Find out why neighbors took took to the streets about this outer East Portland abandoned-and-abused residence, across from Lents Park …

Neighbors say this charred, neglected residence has become another “zombie house” in the Lents neighborhood.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton

About a dozen residents were out protesting, on the afternoon of July 23, across the street from what was once a lovely split-level house, built in 1968, with a front-room view of Lents Park.

Their protest, they said, was to bring attention to the house – at 5017 SE 88th Avenue – that for well over a year has been but a burned-out shell, after two different arson-caused fires on February 1, 2016, left it in ruins.

To see our coverage of those fires,
Lents ‘squatter house’ set ablaze – twiceCLICK HERE.

The property, currently owned by the Federal National Mortgage Assn., (known as “Fannie Mae”) C/O Reverse Mortgage Solutions, now has a fence around it – but hasn’t been repaired.

They’re tired of City of Portland officials seemingly taking no action to clean up “zombie houses” in their area, neighbors say.

Neighbors pointed out that, since 2013 this house has had seven Nuisance Abatement complaints, the most recent “date of activity” listed as 6/30/2017 – which indicates the City of Portland is well aware of this derelict “zombie house”.

Noting that officials have long been aware of derelict houses in their neighborhood, including the then-Mayor Charlie Hales leading a tour of several distressed properties on June 10, 2016 [read Exploring Lents ‘Zombie Houses’], homeowner say they’re “fed up” with excuses.

The “Trespassing Prohibited” sign is ignored by people breaking the fence and slipping into the property, according to the neighbors.

“This ‘zombie house’ is right next door to my home, and it is an example of one of those that’s been in the neighborhood, this way, for about seven years,” said 17-year homeowner Lara Storke.

“For the first ten years, it was wonderful living here,” Storke recalled. But after the owner died, squatters moved in, and the problems began, she said.

“It’s been a really long and painful process of trying to get that place cleaned up,” Storke told East Portland News. “When there were a dozen or more people squatting there, we had a lot of problems with rodents, and with disgusting smells coming out of there – the smell of urine, feces, and garbage.

“There was a lot of dope-dealing going on in there, with people coming and going all times of the day and night. There was even prostitution going on in and around the house.”

Before the fires, she’d often go on a “needle-and-syringe patrol” in her yard, carefully picking up drug paraphernalia tossed onto her property.

It’s time for this property owner to sell to a developer, who will tear down the house and build a new one, says next-door neighbor Lara Storke.

After the fires, a temporary construction fence was erected, but that didn’t keep some people from getting in and lurking in and around the house.

“This place is so far gone, I’d like to see it torn down, and a new house, or houses, built in its place – where families could come and have a wonderful life, across from this beautiful park,” Storke said. “Right here there’s a baseball park, soccer fields, a dog park over there, a community garden – this is a great Park. It’s just the zombie houses like this, around the neighborhood, make our neighborhood bad.”

With Portland having a “housing shortage”, “it seems like the City would have this place removed, and allow family housing to take its place,” Storke reflected.

© 2017 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

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