Abandoned houses causing safety concerns for neighbors

Residents living in one Cape Girardeau neighborhood are concerned about squatters going in and out of abandoned homes.
Published: Aug. 1, 2022 at 5:00 PM CDT|Updated: Aug. 2, 2022 at 3:26 AM CDT
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CAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo. (KFVS) - In June, city officials told us they were determined to tackle abandoned buildings and houses around Cape Girardeau.

Since then, one neighborhood with three condemned homes has gotten even more concerned about their safety.

Katie Reavis moved onto North Henderson Street 14 years ago, in 2008.

When she first moved in, it was a nice place to live.

“It was great,” Reavis said. “I didn’t have to worry about leaving my kids at home during the day, my kids could go out and play.”

Now, in 2022, she is concerned for her and her kids safety because of activities in three abandoned houses.

The houses, along with a vacant lot, are all owned by the same woman.

“Nobody can go outside, nobody feels safe,” Reavis said. “It’s a very uneasy feeling to be in your own house.”

The houses on the street, numbers 16, 36 and 37 are technically vacant. However, Reavis has seen people sneaking in and out of them consistently for quite some time.

“Through back doors, windows, however they can get in them,” Reavis said. “You can tell that somebody is in these properties. Over the winter we would see fires inside the homes that have no utilities, no heat, no electric, no nothing.”

Other neighbors were scared of the people squatting in these houses and did not want to speak publicly. But they saw people moving into house number 16 on Sunday night.

Neighbors said the people told them they had an extension from the city and were given permission to move in.

“No extension has been granted,” Ryan Shrimplin, Cape Girardeau’s city planner, said.

According to Shrimplin, that house was condemned in October 2021 due to a fire.

“We don’t know the schedule for that particular house yet, but it is slated for demolition,” Shrimplin said.

He said the city is aware of the activities going on inside all three of these houses.

“A condemned building cannot be occupied legally under the ordinance, so we are looking into the matter,” Shrimplin said.

Reavis said the neighborhood has been dealing with these issues for far too long.

Many residents are considering moving away.

“But you can’t sell your house when you have these chaotic situations down the street, no one wants to buy your house on that street,” Reavis said.

Reavis and other residents on the street want to see the property owner held accountable for the safety concerns these houses have caused.

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