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Downtown Housing Raises Concerns

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EUGENE, Ore. — There are run-down buildings in just about every neighborhood, but one on a main thoroughfare such as Seventh Avenue is drawing extra attention. Neighbors of the apartment complex on that street say it’s been like this for about ten years.

Its appearance is off-putting and locals say the tenants can be, too.

“You just walk through and there’s disarray. There’s cars on blocks,” said neighboring business owner Jim Peterson.

“There’s a lot of graffiti. Several of the people who have lived there have yelled at my employees,” said Catherine Reinhart, Sweet Life owner.

“There’s trash piled up. No one’s taking care of the place,” Peterson said.

Neighbors say the cluster of buildings is all owned by Tom, a long-time resident who runs a tea house near campus.

At one point there was a belief that one building was supposed to house a second tea house, but neighbors say the tea didn’t sell and neither did the aquariums or the antiques he tried to market. Now, it’s a few vacant run-down houses and an apartment complex that has some people asking questions.

“I don’t know if it’s Section 8 housing. I don’t know who pay for it, but the people that live there are not being taken care of fairly,” Peterson said.

“It definitely looks like a health hazard on some level,” Reinhart said.

But Tom’s Place, as neighbors call it, has been like this for years, and Peterson, who owns Trips across the street, says it’s getting worse.

“It’s surprising. I mean, we look at it and we talk to neighbors and it’s like how can this go on? You’d think the city would come in and say ‘hey, you gotta clean this up or knock the building down and sell the lot,’” Peterson said.

But that hasn’t happened, and Peterson thinks the neighborhood might have something to do with the city’s lack of interest.

“If this were a business and I were on Pearl Street and this was going on, it would be totally unacceptable and be cleaned up. It’s hard for me to believe that somebody wouldn’t want to buy that property or put up commercial or residential housing,” Peterson said.

“I figure live and let live. If you want your property to be a dump, then what can I do about it?” Reinhart said.

We weren’t able to get in touch with Tom on Tuesday, but a representative for some of his Section 8 tenants say he has a reputation for renting to people who just need a place to live.

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