MAPLE HEIGHTS, Ohio — The city of Maple Heights has begun a door-to-door inspection program to make sure houses don’t fall into disrepair or have to be demolished.
The city’s Building Department has already started inspecting the exteriors of some of the houses in Maple Heights.
The goal of the program is to maintain the city’s aging housing stock and to prevent eyesores, according to Brendan Zak, the city’s housing manager, who’s been on the job for eight months.
“We’re acknowledging that our neighborhoods need the love and we need to be the ones to give it to them,” Zak said.
Zak said he often hears from residents that certain houses are eyesores. But the city doesn’t want these inspections to be burdensome.
“We want to make sure that we are doing this equitably, that we are doing this in a way that we’re not hurting our homeowners or our landlords, but in a way to make sure that the house down the street that someone just grimaces looking at every single day is being addressed. And we’re doing something about it,” Zak said.
Zak said that most houses in Maple Heights are “beautiful” and may just have a small “cosmetic thing” here or there.
“But it’s always the sore thumb on the street that people remember,” Zak said.
He described a house he was looking at: “Obviously the paint is going to be an issue. The overgrown bushes are an issue. The steps that have fallen on this property are an issue. The entire garage behind me is an issue with junk on display.”
But repairs can be expensive. That’s why Zak said they’re looking at ways to connect people with resources: county programs, or low-cost loans and grants.
“Most people that I talk to say, you know, ‘I would love to put a new roof on my house. I’d love to do this. I’d love to do that. I know this is a problem. I just don’t have the money for it,’” Zak said.
Houses that have violations are given a three-month date to comply with repairs, but Zak said that time frame is flexible as long as homeowners communicate about what they’re doing and the progress they’re making.
“As long as we’re seeing progress, as long as we’re seeing a little bit, we’re not going to send anyone to court. We’re not going to be punitive with this program,” Zak said.
Zak said next year’s budget includes three housing inspectors, each of whom will be responsible for about one-third of the annual inspections.
Janet Menefee has lived in Maple Heights for three years. She described the city as “nice and quiet” and said she feels safe because “police always patrol the area because I do a lot of walking.”
However, she realizes not all of the houses in the city look their best.
“I’m not gonna lie. It makes it trashy. It really does,” Menefee said of houses that are in disrepair. “I just feel like everybody that’s on the front streets need to …….