A Peoria home ruled unfit for human habitation has been demolished.
A small crowd of neighbors watched as city crews tore down the house at 3523 N. Knoxville Monday morning. The demolition seemed to come as a relief for the onlookers, who traded small talk about the "junk" surrounding the home, and the foul smell that permeated the air every time another wall was torn down.
The house has been a source of contention for both the city and neighbors for several years. Some said it was more than an eyesore; with various items cluttering the front lawn, and some of the structure in disrepair, they said it was a health and safety hazard for anyone who lived nearby.
According to the city, the house also posed health and safety risks for the two women who lived inside. That assertion was seemingly supported after three firefighters and an inspector, all wearing HazMat suits, took one more look inside the house the morning it was slated to be razed.
"Their report was that the house was literally floor to ceiling with stuff," said City of Peoria Community Development Director Ross Black.
Black said the city has for several years tried to get the homeowner to clean up the property, but nothing was ever done.
"Unfortunately, we're at a point where the only solution left is demolition," Black said.
Not everyone is convinced the house needed to be destroyed. A news release sent by blogger and community activist Elaine Hopkins says the house is messy, but is otherwise "sound." It goes on to say that the demolition will force the residents, Peg Pendell and her daughter, Jessica Taylor, into nursing homes at Medicaid's expense.
"With a little help they would be able to live independently in their home," the release states of Pendell, a senior citizen, and Taylor, who suffers from an unspecified disability.
But other sources painted a more dire picture of the home than even the city did, saying the home was much more than just "messy"; it apparently had no running water, no restroom facilities, and no safe paths through the "stuff" packed inside.
"Frankly, it's a health hazard and it needed to be removed," Black said. "Our real concern is that the property is unfit for human habitation. It's been posted that way for several months, although we do believe that the property owner has continued to live in the house."
The city will put a lien on the property for the cost of the demolition, but the real estate will still belong to the current property owner. Everything on the site, though, will be hauled away.