Boston Leaders Push for More to Be Done About Vacant Lots

Walk down Geneva Avenue in Boston's Dorchester neighborhood. Block after block, neighbors like Humberto Martinez are dealing with overgrown weeds, trash and who knows what else in an empty lot.

"Last month, I killed a snake there, and I feel scared now because I have three kids," said Martinez, who lives next door.

He says the eye sore, owned by the city, is dragging down the community. He says it's been four weeks since someone came by to mow the lawn.

"No ones cleans this place," Martinez said.

All across Boston, there are dozens of vacant lots. The one at the corner of Whittier Street and Tremont Street in Roxbury looks like a jungle.

"Sometimes, I see homeless go in there," said Madeline Sanchez.

Right now, the city only fines private owners of these empty lots if they are not up to code. But City Councilor Matt O'Malley now wants to give them incentive to build affordable housing.

"The city needs to be doing more to expedite the permitting process to look at ways we can help these business owners," says O'Malley.

City Council President Andrea Campbell says it's also time to create a master list of what's vacant in the city, so all the relevant departments can get on the same page.

"What is the plan for those parcels, and what are we doing with those parcels?" asked Campbell.

Martinez says for now, he just wants the city to do something about the one next door to his home.

"I would like to know if they can build a park for the kids," he suggested. "Keep it clean more often."

City leaders say this is just the beginning of an ongoing conversation about finding solutions for affordable housing.

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