South Bay Group Takes on Blight - NBC Bay Area

South Bay Group Takes on Blight



    A new group in the South Bay is going straight to slumlord to urge them to clean up their rental property. Marianne Favro reports. (Published Tuesday, Nov. 27, 2012)

    Are you tired of looking at blight in your San Jose neighborhood?

    A new group may be able to help. It is called the Responsible Landlords Engagement Initiative (RLEI).

    The consortium is comprised of the United Neighborhoods of Santa Clara County and Neighborhood Housing Services of Silicon Valley.

    The initiative began its work this year starting in the Via Monte Hoffman area off Almaden Expressway in south San Jose, where 130 apartment complexes are packed into just a few acres.

    It is not uncommon to see broken windows, exposed wires and garbage overflowing out of the trash bins in the neighborhood. Nubia Ramirez is a landlord who takes pride in her three apartment complexes there but says she was tired of neighboring landlords ignoring the blight.

    “There is Graffiti all over, trash is overflowing the dumpsters, some units have no landscaping” said Ramirez. She turned to RLEI for help.

    The groups starts by reviewing complaints and making sure there are several neighbors who share the same concerns.

    "The problem is many of the property owners are absentee landlords who don’t live in the area and may not be aware of the problems” said Ken Kelly President of the Board of Directors for United Neighborhoods of Santa Clara County.

    RLEI volunteers then contact the property owner directly to address the problem. If no improvements are made, then the initiative tries to meet with the property owner again. “We often set up a meeting with a city council member in their district and the San Jose Police Department and sometimes the District Attorney’s Office”, said Ken Kelly President of the Board of Directors for United Neighborhoods of Santa Clara County.

    The initiative has helped to clean up five apartment complexes in the Hoffman-Via Monte neighborhood this year and is actively investigating six other properties.

    Thanks to the efforts, dumpsters that were once overflowing with trash on the ground are now cleaned up, an abandoned R.V. torn apart and parked on the a street for months has been removed, and Exposed wires have been replaced. Nubia Ramirez has definitely noticed improvements.

    ”I’ve seen cleaned up properties, junk is out of car ports and now graffiti is promptly removed from walls”, said Ramirez. The initiative is also working to help neighbors who have complaints about the upkeep of single family homes.