OLD TOWN – A recent inventory by city officials indicates that nearly five dozen homes across the city may have been abandoned in recent years.

The fallout from the 2008 collapse of the U.S. economy has continued to dog many homeowners since, who across the country have given up their homes due to being unable to pay taxes or just given up because their mortgages were underwater. Throw in properties that were left behind for such reasons as being left uninhabitable by fire and other disaster, and the number of abandoned homes is considerable.

In Old Town, a committee of city officials has been reviewing abandoned and/or dilapidated building, and Assessor Travis Roy gave a report on those properties at last week’s city council meeting. Based on an informal review by Roy and Code Enforcement Officer David Russell, which did not include actual entry into buildings but rather relied on what appeared to be exterior signs of abandonment, Roy said it is believed about 57 homes are now abandoned.

Of those, about ten have for sale signs up, another 20 have been secured by banks. The banks having the homes in hand, however, however, does not mean they’ll be occupied any time soon; Roy said at least one vacant property has been held by a bank, with no sale, for four and a half years. Roy added that 18 to 20 of the empty home have code violations, with a half doze or so being serious.

The city currently has nine homes on its municipal foreclosure list, with a handful having been approved by the council for redemption of back taxes; three properties have been sold, with net proceeds of just over $50,000 for the city.

But Roy acknowledged that in some instances, the paper trail, which can wind through several banks, or numerous family members, can be daunting in trying to take action on abandoned properties. Still city officials are trying to act as quickly as they can – although it appears that in many instances, their battle will be uphill.

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