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Officials say not enough funding to raze foreclosed buildings

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MILWAUKEE -- Hundreds of properties that have been foreclosed upon are slated to be torn down. The homes are falling apart and officials say they're dangerous. However, the city does not have enough funding to tear down every house with a raze order on it. In the meantime, these abandoned properties are becoming a haven for criminals.

Burnell Thomas took FOX6 News on a troubling tour of homes on North 30th Street near Roosevelt, pointing out foreclosed properties.

"It's disgusting because it causes the rest of the properties to go down in value," Thomas said.

There are 520 homes with raze orders in Milwaukee -- a number that is expected to grow. Milwaukee Alderman Michael Murphy says the city only has enough money to tear down a fraction of the homes each year.

"Our estimates show that next year alone to take down some of these properties that have been abandoned we probably need at least $12 million. We just don't have that," Alderman Murphy said.

It is projected the city will have just $2.2 million for razing properties next year.

Milwaukee's Department of Neighborhood Services says one big problem they're facing is scavengers who strip the homes of any value.

"Ultimately they become harborage for criminal activity. Once you start letting blight fester into a neighborhood, it just grows and grows," Art Dahlberg with the Dept. of Neighborhood Services said.

Police say abandoned homes drive the crime rate up.

"Houses that are boarded up are both crime scenes because people break into them and steal the metal. They're also crime opportunities because you know drug gangs will use them to sell drugs and engage in other negative activity," Milwaukee Police Chief Ed Flynn said.

The city is applying for more funding from the state -- hoping to make a bigger dent in the problem next year. There are 3,500 vacant buildings in Milwaukee, but only the worst have raze orders.

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