LAS CRUCES, New Mexico - The City is struggling with an abandoned building problem in the Mesquite Historic District.
Nearly 200 homes in the city are abandoned, about a third of those are in the historic district.
The city said one of the main reasons behind the problem is that when an owner passes away, no one claims the property.
Irene Oliver Lewis has lived in the Mesquite Historic District nearly all her life.
Her home is now surrounded by abandoned homes with cracked walls and cluttered with old couches, bottles and weeds.
The homes are also subject to thefts and vandalism.
"The police department performs regular patrols trying to stop the nuisances of people running in and out of these buildings," Chief James Chavez, with the city codes enforcement department, said. "We can board them up, but that's just a band-aid. Now, what the city manager has wanted us to do is create a task force and how to move the process a little faster."
The city has to go through a lengthy, and often costly, legal process to take ownership of the homes.
The city recently created a neighborhood task force in order to look into how to speed up the process.
ABC-7 is told an update on the city's next move will be provided soon.