Slumlords the problem on West Side

 SOUTH BEND, Ind. – With dozens of “For Rent” signs up and down the street, it’s hard to believe there was once a waiting list to move into a house on the West Side of South Bend.

“They would put riffraff in there and that would change the whole block,” Ryan Andersen said.

Andersen has bought, redone and rented more than a hundred houses in South Bend. Currently he manages 60 properties, one third of those homes are vacant.

“It just takes one bad person on the block to make the rest of the block worth living on,” Andersen said.

Most of the houses on the west side are rental homes, many of which are run by slumlords, Andersen said.

Without security deposits, thorough background/criminal checks, and proof of income, some landlords allow anyone to move in.

“Landlords need to investigate the tenants a little more,” Grady Harvell said. He grew up on Huey Street and now owns a home there, the rest of the houses on the block are rentals.

“You don’t know what’s going on no more, you don’t know who your neighbors are.” Harvell said tenants are in and out of the rentals. Young kids move in and are gone within a few months, but they always manage to stir up trouble while they there.

“A lot of it is violence, yep,” Harvell said, “They just come in and making problems.”

Andersen wants to change that, he wants to attract a better crowd and get them to stay in the area.

His plan, which has been in the works for years, is to improve the housing, raise rent prices, and offer rent-to-own houses.

"To get a better class of tenant in here,” Andersen said. “You get a better tenant here, you get a better tenant there and now the entire block is starting to turn around.”

Anderson completely remodels homes; his properties are some of the nicest on the market. Still, some people don’t think the homes are enough to bring people to the neighborhood.

“Nobody wants to move in here because they see all the trouble in the neighborhood,” Harvell said.

But it’s an idea, a possible solution to a problem no one seems to know how to fix. Harvell said,“If they clean them up some more, you may get a different group out here, a better crowd.”

Harvell said he won’t move off of his street, but he hopes others do and a more stable and responsible group of people will move in.

Andersen has 20 properties up for rent right now, some of which have been on the market for two or three months.

The property manager said he’s gotten hundred of phone calls but many people don’t meet requirements he has for rents, specifically the income level.

Andersen said he’d rather wait for the right tenant and other owners and landlords should do the same and be more selective.

He said slowly, renters are moving into his houses and hopefully it will make a difference and curb the crime and violence on the west side. 

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