"Tear Them Down!" Says A Gulfport Community About Vacant, Abandoned Homes

Herman Johnston says the view from his back porch is a sight for sore eyes.  Johnston has a clear shot of abandoned houses he and other residents say are creating blight on their block.

"It makes you feel like, God why did I do all this to make (my house) look better, make the city look better, make us look better.  It's terrible," said Johnston.

To make matters worse, Johnston says the vacant houses are bringing in some unwanted neighbors - rats.  His next door neighbors have had a few run-ins with the rodents.

"The other morning as they walked out, a rat was running down the top of the fence.  I don't think you or anyone else would like to see this near your house."

Johnston says he sees a simple solution to the problem.

"I want the city to tear them down, get them out or do whatever they want to do with it."

Gulfport Councilwoman Libby Roland says the city is listening and planning to take action. Roland says the house three doors down from Johnston has a demolition order on it, and it should come down any day.

On the vacant house next door, there was a historic grant which caused a delay. Roland says the owner failed to clean-up his property as the grant required and the city had to take legal action.

"On Tuesday, the city awarded a bid to clean that piece of property at 1417 2nd Street, and it will be taken down."

Right now, the school district is tearing down the old East Ward Elementary school across the street from Johnston's house.

While Johnston sees that demolition as a good move, he says seeing the vacant houses come down would be one gift he'd loved the city to give his neighborhood this Christmas.

As for the rat problem, Roland says the city is working with animal control but says tearing down the houses will be the best way to deal with the problem.

The councilwoman says the city has also issued cut and clean notices and contracts for beach property around the area.