New Way of Securing Abandoned Homes Is Worth a Look

Houston City councilman Jarvis Johnson thinks he might have the answer to a problem that inner-city neighborhoods are very familiar with. He says the city should consider a unique system that secures abandoned homes and businesses, empty properties that attract drug users and other criminals.

"What we have is a 14-gauge solid steel door panel designed with no pry-points."

The system is offered by a Chicago-based company, Vacant Property Security. Instead of using plywood to board-up homes, VPS uses steel window covers and thick metal doors. This is the company's Linda Carter.

"Traditionally, people think of securing properties with plywood boards and we all know that the boards don't work. This is a superior system that actually does secure the property, lets in light, lets in air and does not damage the interior or exterior of the property."

Outside a home on the northeast side just off of Lockwood, Councilmember Jarvis Johnson says the system could help the city secure properties abandoned by their owners that become drug dens or safety hazards.

"If the ownership is absent, then the onus of the responsibility does fall on the city. At the same time, that is a larger cost to the city, but what my point is is that you can never put a cost on a child's life, and so if that cost is additional, we have to weigh it in respect to how do we recoup that cost."  

The city does not have an agreement with VPS, but Johnson says it might be a good idea to consider one. The company already works with other cities, including Dallas, New York and Los Angeles.

Bio photo of Jack Williams

Jack Williams

Director of News Programming

News Director Jack Williams has been with Houston Public Radio since August of 2000. He's also a reporter and anchor for Houston Public Radio's local All Things Considered segments...