MILWAUKEE -- The City of Milwaukee is suing to shut down problem properties on the city's south side. The lawsuit claims the buildings are linked to drugs and prostitution, and the owner has done nothing about it except collect money.
The lengthy lawsuit shows just how problematic these properties have become for residents and neighbors. Several properties have been listed as drug designations. City leaders hope to have them quickly shut down and have new management brought in.
"These properties have been the home, we feel strongly, of drug dealing and prostitution," said Alderman Bob Donovan.
They are all owned by Kenneth Churchill III. Alderman Donovan said he's never seen a case of neglect like this.
"To neglect your properties is bad enough, and allow this stuff to go on, but it is alleged that he was a part of it," said Donovan.
According to a 30-page lawsuit, the city alleges on multiple occasions, Churchill was contacted about prostitution and drug activity like marijuana, heroin, crack cocaine, and cocaine use on his properties. Six of the 12 properties are labeled as drug house designations.
Citizen complaints led city leaders to take action.
"Most of them, out of fear, have been anonymous complaints," said Donovan.
A witness told authorities Churchill knew about the crimes and allowed them to happen on the condition of $1,000 cash payments. There are also issues with multiple code violations, ranging from un-repaired windows and doors to defective electrical fixtures.
Churchill released the following statement to FOX6 News:
"The allegations are not true. I was working with the police department to try to stop getting these type of tenants. I do not allow drug dealing or prostitution."
Alderman Donovan said the city hopes to obtain these properties and bring in new management -- but he had a message for the tenants causing trouble.
"I don't want them in my district. They can get the hell out of Milwaukee. Drugs and prostitutes we're not interested in. We're interested in good people," said Donovan.
FOX6 News took a deeper look into Churchill's court history and this is the first time he's been the defendant. In past cases, he's sued tenants for not paying their rent on time.
Alderman Donovan is planning a joint press conference with Alderman Jose Perez on Wednesday, February 15th to speak about one of the now boarded-up properties.