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In Maryland, demolition crews in Prince George's County have razed 46 abandoned homes this year, more than nine times the number torn down all of last year. Despite some upcoming bureaucratic changes, that pace won't be slowing anytime soon.
The latest property to come down was a two-story aqua blue home along Hawthorne Street in Landover. Floreen Campbell lives next to what is now a pile of rubble, but for the prior five years that home was vacant—except for the occasional vagrant and a host of animals that did damage to her property.
"We had mice. I was sitting in my back yard one night, and along the fence came...a raccoon! I said 'Oh my god a raccoon!' And we watched him...he came around the fence, up the tree, and into the house. A possum. Things I'd never seen. This is a blessing," she says.
Later this year, the responsibility for razing abandoned properties will shift from the county's department of environmental resources to the department of permitting, inspections, and enforcement. With that change comes new code enforcement policies that will make events like yesterday's easier to achieve, a move that can't come soon enough for a home in Columbia Park that Prince George's County council chair Andrea Harrison says has been abandoned for more than 20 years.
"But I guarantee you if I have to steal one of these things right here and drive it myself and get to Columbia Park I'm going to knock that home down for you. I'm going to go to jail if I have to but it's coming down," she says.
Close to 40 other abandoned property razings are scheduled in the county this year.