‘Not just my nightmare’: Mother in search of son concerned about unsafe homes in Rochester

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ROCHESTER, N.Y. A mother who is desperate to find her son said News10NBC’s investigation into unsafe homes could help save families.

The city is aggressively trying to identify unsafe houses and tear them down. And when a mother saw News10NBC’s investigation into this last night, she immediately thought of her son, who she hasn’t seen or heard from in three months. Her son has been addicted to heroin for a decade.

And the homes News10NBC exposed last night are the kind she fears that she’s going to find her son, maybe alive, maybe dead.

10 years ago Patricia Howard says her oldest son Adam got addicted to heroin. She hasn’t seen or heard from him since Thanksgiving.

Patricia Howard: It’s a nightmare to a lot of families. It’s not just my nightmare.

And now she fears that he’s either living in one of the vacant homes or his body is in one of them.

Brean: When you see a house like that, what do you worry about?

Patricia Howard: These are the kinds of houses that they use for stash houses. And then eventually they’ll burn down. Somebody will burn it down.

In the last two weeks, at least three vacant homes have caught on fire. In December, police found a murder next to a vacant home and known drug house.

News10NBC’s investigation shows that in the last 12 months, the city has sued the owners of 68 properties and labeled the house dangerous and unsafe. In the last five years, the city has demolished 500 homes. 77 homes are marked for demolition now.

Brean: If the city got rid of homes like this like they’re trying to do, how would that help your situation and your son’s situation?

Howard: Oh it would make it harder for people to hide out and use. I mean there are shooting galleries in some of these houses. Where that’s all they’re used for. And a lot of the dealers will stash their drugs and weapons in these houses because they don’t leave them at their house.

Part of the city’s motivation behind tearing these homes down is it believes vacant homes are breeding grounds for every crime that happens, especially the drug trade.