Neighbors concerned about their safety have reported hundreds of unsecured, vacant houses in Phoenix so far this year.
ABC15 obtained the data from the Phoenix Neighborhood Services Department after reporting on an unsecured north Phoenix home that was being used as a litter box by feral neighborhood cats.
Code compliance workers have investigated at least 200 open vacant houses since January 1. ABC15 found the biggest concentration, with 25 homes, is in west Phoenix's 85009 zip code.
"If you go through a lot of the neighborhood, there are a lot of abandoned homes here," Erica Okamura said. She lives near Carl Hayden High School.
Neighbors say one abandoned house, across the street from an elementary school, attracts transients.
"People were coming in and out of there using them probably for drugs," Okamura said.
"Safety is our main concern," said Neighborhood Services Compliance Manager Patrick Ravenstein.
Ravenstein said owners do the necessary repairs within weeks of the initial violation notice in half the cases the department investigates. The other owners are slapped with a property lien after the city pays contractors to fix them.
"We have some properties that have been abated several times," Ravenstein said. "Generally [for] those properties the owner is deceased or we can't find them."
People who live near homes with repeated violations say it can take weeks or months to work though the legal issues and get them boarded up, and problems can persist after repairs.
"Occasionally somebody will try to go in there at night," Gilbert Vega said about the vacant home next door. "We will hear some noises, and then we will put in a complaint call."