A 90-year-old north St. Louis woman claims she's a prisoner in her own home.
She says abandoned, crumbling buildings on either side of her house are crime magnets and she claims they're owned by the city.
After 14 kids and 70 grandkids, you'd think 90-year-old Annie Bell Owens would be able to enjoy her twilight years.
But her granddaughter Bridget Ton says think again.
“She doesn't do her daily walk anymore because of fear of the house next door,” said Ton. “(There’s) loose bricks (and) that window is about to fall out.”
The problem is that Owen’s Highland Avenue home of 50 years is sandwiched between two severely-dilapidated, abandoned buildings, both owned by the city of St. Louis.
Ton says “there's steady crumbling and we're worried it will crumble onto her home.”
Owens herself says “They could've tore it down a long time ago.”
In fact, one of the buildings was condemned in 2013. The back of it has fallen in.
As for the other abandoned home, the roof is gone, but it has not been condemned. Ton says both buildings have plenty of uninvited visitors.
“See this?” she said as we walked through one of the properties. “Basement door open. Cats, rats. We're afraid homeless people that get in and out of there can cause harm to her. Drug dealers keep their stashes here. Break off the boards.”
Annie's family says they've been waiting decades for local government to do something and now they’re getting angry.
“We would like to hear more than 'it's on the list'” said Ton. “Will it happen in her life time?”
5 On Your Side Investigates finds that according to city records, St, Louis government owns more than 71 abandoned or vacant properties in Annie’s ward.
The Grandmother says neglect and danger mark many of her neighborhood's homes, and yet she still refuses to move.
Now her family hopes the city will stand up and help improve the quality of this grandmother's remaining years.
“She's limited to just being in the house now and that's no way to live” said Ton. “No one should have to live like this.”
We asked the City of St. Louis for comment.
They told us the condemned home in our story was added to the demolition list in September.
Now they say they're just waiting for the money to make it happen.
"The next round of funding is released in the next fiscal year, which begins July," said Maggie Crane, Communications Director for the Office of the Mayor.
The City also says it took down 18 buildings in the past year in Annie's ward.
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