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Demolition Crews Have Busy Year In Prince George's County

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Demolition crews have been busy in Prince George's County this year, targeting homes abandoned by residents.

The two-story homes along Hawthorne Street in Landover date back to the late 1940s. One in particular stands out, but not for the reason residents here would like. The aqua blue home has been abandoned for five years, and it's outsides have been begun to peel away, revealing the dusty and rusty rooms inside.

"I want to welcome everybody to this extreme home makeover," says Adam Ortiz, the acting director of Prince George's County's Department of Environmental Resources.

Ortiz's department oversees demolitions of abandoned properties. Later this year, that responsibility will shift to another department, but for now, Ortiz and his employees are going out with a bang. Forty-six abandoned homes have been razed already this year, compared to just five all of last year.

"Studies show an abandoned, vacant, and blighted house can bring down the property values of neighboring homes from anywhere from $5,000 to $17,000," Ortiz says. "Prince George's County was hit very hard by the foreclosure crisis. We were targeted by predatory lending, and now many years later many of those abandoned and vacant homes have fallen into disrepair, like this one here today."

And with that, an excavator ripped the blue home into a pile of rubble in a matter of minutes.

Many were happy, but none more so than Melissa Foster and Floreen Campbell, whose homes are on either side of the now demolished one. Both women said at times vagrants lived in the home, as did mice, raccoons, and possums that damaged their properties. And while this was the 46th home to be razed this year in the county, officials say close to 40 more are already planned.

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