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Street of residential houses
A homeowner in South Bend, Indiana has issued numerous complaints to code enforcement officials in her area about a problem house in her neighborhood over the course of a year. But while city representatives report they are unable to intervene unless the structure poses an imminent danger, the woman reports a number of problems that could threaten local residents. The case illustrates a common problem with urban and suburban living in the United States: as areas decline, residents increasingly find their standards and even safety threatened by the choices of those around them.Susan Moore has witnessed code enforcement officials writing tickets and issuing warnings to her neighbor for the past 14 months, only to give the homeowner numerous extensions. In response, Moore decided to bring the case to the city council meeting on Monday, September 8, in the hopes that the South Bend city council would intervene.The property’s problems are numerous: Moore claims that the home’s residents use the house’s bathroom even though the water has been disconnected, that it attracts rodents, and that there is litter and contaminated water in the yard. Once, she even had the state health department test for lead, only to find that the result was a concentration of 2,740 micrograms per deciliter. The legal reporting limit is 60.

Moore has lived next to the problem home for 11 years. Since the problems began, she has resorted to lining her property with moth balls to discourage rodents and animals from the neighboring property from visiting her land. Finally tired of watching her neighbor making quick, insubstantial repairs, she has delivered photographs taken over a course of three months to the South Bend legal department and code enforcement offices.

While unfortunately not common due to a high rate of urban and suburban decline in the United States, property owners across the U.S. are nonetheless shocked by the reported conditions at the South Bend property.

Currently, South Bend code enforcement officials have scheduled a hearing for the problematic homeowner on September 25. Moore has stated that she is hopeful the upcoming city council meeting and hearing will cause the city to do more than issue the homeowner another fine.

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