BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Thousands of Baltimore families living next to abandoned houses are looking for a ray of light in a plan being introduced to city council.

Political reporter Pat Warren explains the early intervention for a growing problem.

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City council is being asked to give the housing department the power to impose harsher penalties on homeowners who just pick up and go.

The city has focused on demolishing or renovating abandoned properties that pose a danger to communities.

Residents in New Northwood may not have to wait for the roof to collapse or the porch to cave in to get something done about an abandoned house.

“Everybody’s complaining about it, but it looks like it’s just hard to get anything done,” said Marshall Megginson, resident.

Thursday was a backdrop for support of a bill to impose harsher penalties on owners of houses in disrepair.

“Simply because they are not properly taking care of the exterior, the city will be able to classify this house as a vacant nuisance property and hit the owner hard,” said Councilman Bill Henry, 4th District.

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It falls in line with Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake’s “Vacants to Value” program.

“When you have neighbors who have left, for whatever reason, and feel sometimes for sentimental reasons, sometimes they haven’t been pushed to that decision point and have left these properties abandoned… it weights down and it brings down these communities,” Rawlings-Blake said.

Residents appreciate the attention to this issue.

“This has been a problem for a long time and I’ve been trying to get people to come out and see our problem for a long time because this is one of the nicest neighborhoods anybody can live in,” Megginson said.

Residents hope the proposed plan will keep their neighborhoods nice and safe.

According to Mayor Rawlings-Blake, 3,000 vacant properties have been rehabbed or demolished since 2010.

The Vacant to Value program provides incentives for people to move back into city neighborhoods.

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