KC mayor to outline plan to battle blighted buildings in crime-infested neighborhoods

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- They're more than an eyesore.

Municipal leaders in Kansas City say abandoned buildings are a magnet for illegal activity, and now, Kansas City's mayor plans to do something about it.

Community members in the east Kansas City area say it's about time someone took notice of the number of vacant buildings in their territory. City Hall says it's blighted old buildings like the ones along the 2300 block of Chestnut Street it's targeting.

Kansas City Mayor Sly James is planning a news conference for 12 p.m. on Thursday in that area, in the heart of an area KCPD Chief Daryl Forte says is home to 75 percent of the city's violent crimes.

"There's so much corruption that's going around, that people are afraid to stop," Dallas Finch, local business operator, told FOX 4 News, said, while applauding Mayor James efforts.

Finch, 56, is co-owner of a used appliance dealer on Kansas City's east side, and he sees the violence every day. Finch says he grew up on the east side of the metro, and says the blighted houses are offering criminals a safe haven in which to commit their crimes. He knows the houses are boarded up, but that doesn't stop criminals.

"There's prostitution. There's drugs down here. Their first stop is the abandoned houses. There's no one there. We're going to go there and do what we do," Finch said on Wednesday.

Chief Forte recently pointed out there are peaceful pockets within his notable hot-spot policing program. He says, within a recent blog post, the number of blighted houses has a big effect on a neighborhood's violent crime rate.

The blighted housing program is just one part of the annual city budget, which the mayor will present to Kansas City's council on Thursday.