COLUMBUS, Ohio — Since January 2019, the City of Columbus has obtained court orders to shut down more than 150 properties.
Most of these “nuisance properties” are residential homes that were rented out, but the list also included apartments, bars, markets and gas stations. They’re cited for a list of offenses including drug trafficking, prostitution and violent crimes.
“No one wants to raise a family – and they don’t deserve to raise a family – around a drug house,” said Columbus City Attorney Zach Klein. “So, we’re doing our best to take the most aggressive approach allowed by law.”
CrimeTracker 10 plotted each property the city went after since January 2019. The largest concentrations fell near Liden, Eastmoor, Franklinton, the Hilltop and several neighborhoods south of Columbus.
Klein said there are many instances where the same landowner is popping up over and over again, the city can ask the court to tell them they cannot own any property across the city.
“We’ve been very aggressive, not just on the Hilltop, but across the city on drug houses and violent property,” Columbus City Attorney Zach Klein said. “The families that live around here deserve better.”
CrimeTracker 10 looked at one Hilltop neighborhood which included 634 S. Ogden Avenue, which is one of the nuisance properties that was boarded up in March 2022.
Within a half-mile area of that residence, there were more than half a dozen homes shut down since 2019.
Using our interactive mapping system which plots crimes reported to the Columbus Division of Police, CrimeTracker 10 discovered crime reports dropped by more than half in the month of June year to year, with 123 total crimes in 2019 compared to 48 in 2022.
Klein doesn’t believe the decline is pandemic related, but rather a byproduct of the initiative that is sending a message to criminals: Stop terrorizing neighbors or face jail time.
But some people who live in the Hilltop neighborhood say the crime doesn’t just disappear after a property is shut down.
“They just go to the next one,” said Tamara Robinson, who lives a few doors down from the property on Ogden Avenue that was shut down. “Whether it be down the street or the next street over, I mean, it’s never-ending.”
Robinson said her street is quieter and she’s less fearful to spend time outside her home with her teenage son and their two dogs. Her concern is how long current property owners will allow homes to stay boarded up and become eyesores.
Other neighbors say some of the crime on Ogden Avenue has already returned.
And if the criminals relocate, Klein said the city will find them and hold them accountable.
“Yes, it may move somewhere else and we’ll follow them there too and we’ll shut it down there,” Klein says. “I’m not going to have a defeatist attitude.”
Klein adds despite what appears to be a revolving door, each boarded-up home helps disrupt the daily flow of violence, drugs and prostitution.