MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Heavy equipment knocked down a house on Southwest 14th Avenue near 5th Street in Little Havana Monday, a house whose listed owner died years ago and has since fallen into disrepair and become a place for squatters and drug users and dealers, police say.
As the backhoe hacked away at the wood frame structure, the neighborhood police Commander, Nerly Papier, tweeted out, “Finally one less drug house in Little Havana. We will continue to clean our city.”
The house was commandeered by a nameless landlord who collected rent in cash from five tenants.
A 74-year-old man who lived in the house, and asked that his name not be used, said he was collateral damage.
“I’m doing very poorly. I’m not able to get to my medications or my clothing,” the man said, as he watched the demolition.
Police say his housemates, as with so many similar homes, were engaged in drug use, drug dealing and all manner of nefariousness.
“We’re starting to demolish them in hopes of getting rid of the crime in this area. As you can see, by speaking to neighbors, they’re very happy that we’re here,” said Miami Police Officer Michael Vega.
“I’m very happy because I have little children and I’m happy to see this house go,” said neighbor Fanny Almendares. “There was a lot of suspicious stuff going on.”
The city posted code citation after citation on the house that received no responses.
Officials were unable to determine who the supposed “landlord” was to whom boarders were paying cash rent.
“Code Compliance steps in, gives them the opportunity to clean up this abandoned property, and they don’t do it. They ultimately say, ‘alright, city, you guys just take it over.’ So this is now city property that you’re looking at here,” said Miami spokesperson, Eugene Ramirez.
As the unsafe eyesore and alleged den of iniquity bit the dust Monday, Miami promised more to come.
The city has torn down five of the houses so far this year, but is picking up the pace as code enforcement becomes more aggressive.
They will tear down another house just a few blocks away next week.